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Dept. of Justice files lawsuit against city of Ferguson

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FERGUSON, Mo. — The Justice Department has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Ferguson, one day after the city council voted to revise an agreement aimed at improving how police and courts treat poor people and minorities in the St. Louis suburb.

Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III did not immediately respond to messages from the Associated Press.

Ferguson has been under Justice Department scrutiny since 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black and unarmed, was fatally shot by white officer Darren Wilson 18 months ago. A grand jury and the Justice Department declined to prosecute Wilson, who resigned in November 2014.

But a scathing Justice Department report was critical of police and a profit-driven municipal court system. Following months of negotiations, a deal between the federal agency and Ferguson was announced in January.

A recent financial analysis determined that the agreement would cost the struggling city nearly $4 million in the first year alone. The council voted 6-0 Tuesday to adopt the deal, but with seven amendments.

Mayor James Knowles III initially told The Associated Press Wednesday that the city was laying out its offer to the Justice Department, not trying to reopen negotiations. But at a news conference later in the day, city officials said the city would be willing to sit down again with the Justice Department in hopes of reaching an agreement both sides can live with.

It appears an agreement could not be reached and the federal agency is now taking legal action to enforce the original agreement.