Police officers watch as demonstrators protest the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. But a witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating. Reuters

Attorney General Eric Holder will launch a Justice Department investigation into the Ferguson, Missouri, police. The probe will be conducted by the justice department's civil rights division, according to a report in the Washington Post. The investigation could be announced as early as Thursday, according to unnamed officials cited in the report.

Representatives of the Justice Department met with Ferguson officials Wednesday and informed them of the department's intent to launch a preliminary probe into the city's police department, according to the Missouri official, who had direct knowledge of the meeting, according to CNN.

The inquiry follows the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, and the controversial tactics used by police against citizens who protested on the streets in the wake of Brown's shooting.

Police in Ferguson attracted widespread criticism for deploying SWAT officers and military-style equipment on the streets of the town to manage the protests that erupted in the wake of Brown's shooting.

Federal authorities are already investigating Brown's shooting, and a Missouri grand jury is currently examining whether the officer who killed Brown should face charges.