Milwaukee cop fired after shooting mentally ill man will not face charges

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Christopher Manney won't be charged because he shot Dontre Hamilton in self-defense.

Carrie Antlfinger/AP
On Oct. 11, Family, friends, and community members of Dontre Hamilton rally in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee where Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed Hamilton on April 30.

A white Milwaukee police officer who was fired after he fatally shot a mentally ill black man in April won't face criminal charges, the county's top prosecutor said Monday.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Christopher Manney won't be charged because he shot Dontre Hamilton in self-defense. Manney is at least the third white police officer to avoid charges in the past month after a confrontation that led to a black man's death.

"Based on all the evidence and analysis presented in this report, I come to the conclusion that Officer Manney's use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime," Chisholm said in a statement.

The Hamilton family released a statement through their attorney expressing their disappointment with the decision, saying the case "cries out for justice, criminal charges against Christopher Manney, and accountability to Dontre Hamilton's family."

The family said it has asked the U.S. attorney in Milwaukee to seek a federal investigation.

Manney's attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

The executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, Chris Ahmuty, issued a statement saying the decision not to charge Manney left "a cloud of uncertainty over the circumstances of and the responsibility for Mr. Hamilton's death."

Manney shot 31-year-old Hamilton on April 30 after responding to a call for a welfare check on a man sleeping in a downtown park. Manney said Hamilton resisted when he tried to frisk him. The two exchanged punches before Hamilton got hold of Manney's baton and hit him on the neck, the former officer has said. Manney then opened fire, hitting Hamilton 14 times.

Several witnesses told police they saw Hamilton holding Manney's baton "in an aggressive posture" before Manney shot him, according to Chisholm's report. Police said they have no video of the event.

Chisholm consulted with two experts on the use of force by police officers who concluded Manney's conduct was justified. Emanuel Kapelsohn of the Peregrine Corporation said all the shots were discharged in 3 or 4 seconds and there was no evidence that Manney continued firing after Hamilton hit the ground.

Manney suffered minor injuries, including a bite to his right thumb, a neck strain and neck contusion, the report said. He was treated for post-concussion syndromes, a mild traumatic brain injury and had physical therapy for bicep and rotator cuff injuries, the report said.

Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney in October. He said at the time that Manney correctly identified Hamilton as mentally ill, but ignored department policy and treated him as a criminal by frisking him.

Hamilton's family said he suffered from schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medication.

At a news conference, Chisholm said his assessment covered only whether Manney was justified in using deadly force, not whether the initial stop was handled properly. He invited anyone to review the full investigative file. "They'll think we made a fair decision," he said.

The Milwaukee Police Association condemned Manney's firing as a political move, and members voted no confidence in Flynn soon after the firing. Manney has appealed his dismissal.

Hamilton's death preceded the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City, but the case hasn't attracted as much attention. Hamilton's family has led mainly peaceful protests, trying to raise awareness about mental illness. Other protesters said his death underlined race concerns.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has said he will call up the National Guard if there is any violent reaction to the prosecutor's decision. Police arrested 74 protesters Friday who blocked rush hour traffic on Interstate 43. On Monday, the state Department of Military Affairs activated its emergency operations center to monitor the situation in Milwaukee and coordinate activities between any affected state agencies.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Milwaukee cop fired after shooting mentally ill man will not face charges
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2014/1222/Milwaukee-cop-fired-after-shooting-mentally-ill-man-will-not-face-charges
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe