Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice were all unarmed Black males killed by the police or a neighborhood watch volunteer. And if the recent decisions in the Martin and Rice cases are any indication, the Justice Department will find it difficult to prosecute the officers for civil rights violations.

Given the critical commonality of the incidents and the victims, the cases are different and require the Justice Department to handle them based on the unique circumstances surrounding each tragedy. Even so, it wasn’t good news last week for civil rights advocates when the DOJ decided it wasn’t going to prosecute George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Martin. The determining factor in this case stemmed from the fact that Zimmerman was, in effect, a civilian and not a police officer, and the standards are much higher in bringing civil rights violations against a citizen.

Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder by a jury in Florida in 2013. If he had been a police officer, the DOJ would have had the option of prosecuting him on the “color of law” provision. The department has this option available in the pursuit of civil rights violation charges in the cases of Brown and Garner, though it has been reported that it won’t be filing civil rights violation charges against officer Darren Wilson in the death of Brown.

The challenges the department faces or faced in these two cases center on the degree to which officers can use violence to subdue a suspect or someone in custody. Recent reports of the city of Cleveland claiming the family is at fault in the shooting death of 12-year-old Rice has disturbed civil rights activists. The incomplete report from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office states that Rice’s death was “directly and proximately caused by their own acts.” There were no specific details from the report.

Like the Garner and Brown cases, there are still a number of uncertainties, and there’s no timeline when the final report will be turned over to the prosecutor.

What is apparently certain from the DOJ is the finalization of a report that will accuse the police department of Ferguson, where Brown was slain, with issuing tickets and summons in a discriminatory way against Black residents to supplement the city’s budget.

The report, which is slated to be released later this week, will present Ferguson with a choice, according to news reports—it can either negotiate a settlement with the federal government to end the racially bias issuing of tickets or face legal action.

African-Americans, the report will disclose, made up 86 percent of the department’s traffic stops in 2013, although Blacks comprise only 63 percent of the city’s population.