Christopher Manney takes the stand in appeal hearing: "I want to return to duty. It's who I am. I'm a cop"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On Sunday afternoon, March 22nd, on day four of his appeal hearing, former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney took the witness stand. Manney was first questioned by his attorney, Jonathan Cermele. Manney recounted his version of what happened on April 30th, 2014 -- the day he shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park.

"He was lying on cement. He was completely flat on his back. His palms were up. His left leg though was up and twitching," Manney said, describing his first encounter with Dontre Hamilton.

It was the first time we heard from Christopher Manney -- 11 months after the fatal officer-involved shooting. He is fighting to get his job back.

"I knew this would be a life-affecting type thing," Manney said of the shooting incident.

Manney says he saw a bulge in Dontre Hamilton's right pocket. He apparently feared Hamilton might have a weapon.

"In my mind, that would be a good place the weapon was," Manney said.

Manney was also questioned by Chief Flynn's attorney, Mark Thomsen. Thomsen argued Manney didn't have reasonable suspicion to pat down Dontre Hamilton prior to the shooting.

"We`re here because your rule violations, in part, resulted in the death of Mr. Hamilton. Correct? The alleged rule violations," Thomsen said.

Thomsen pointed out inconsistencies -- saying it wasn't until much later that Manney told investigators he felt fearful of Hamilton.

"We've just been through this report. You've read it. There's no mention of any concern of yours of a bulge in the right pocket?" Thomsen said.

"Sir, this report is not my statements," Manney said.

Thomsen began his questioning by asking Manney whether he is ready and able to return to duty as a Milwaukee police officer.

"No, sir. I want to return to duty. I want to return. It's who I am. I'm a cop. The doctors, they say I can't. But that doesn't hide the fact that I was wrongfully terminated, and I want to be a cop. It's who I am," Manney said.

Manney became emotional as the questioning continued.

The first witness on the stand Sunday was Green Bay Police Officer Mike Knetzger -- who discussed CIT, or Crisis Intervention Training.

On Saturday, after seven hours of testimony, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn took the stand. He explained in detail why he fired Manney.

Manney was terminated from MPD for performing a pat down leading up to the deadly shooting of Dontre Hamilton. Manney's lawyer argues Hamilton had no right to sleep in the park in the first place because it is against city ordinance.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn

On the witness stand Saturday, Flynn indicated Manney violated the MPD core value of competence. He said there was a tragic outcome that could have been avoided if Manney had followed his training.

"He violated our core value of competence and he did so in a way that unfortunately and tragically resulted in him having to use deadly force to protect himself," Flynn said.

While Flynn was on the stand, Manney sat just feet away from his former boss.

"He did not indicate any objective reason, based on his observations, for wanting to pat down Mr. Hamilton except for the fact that he thought he was homeless. But there is nothing in that report to indicate that he thought that Mr. Hamilton was committing a crime; that Mr. Hamilton was in fact personally in possession of a weapon. He was not investigating a crime. There were no suspicions being attached to Mr. Hamilton's behavior. But rather, in his initial response to charges, it was simply that he appeared to be a homeless man and they often carry knives," Flynn said.

During cross-examination, Manney's lawyer argued his client wanted to help Dontre Hamilton.

"If you approach somebody who was lying motionless on the ground with their leg twitching and then all of a sudden opened their eyes and it was a strange facial expression, you might be concerned about the subject's medical condition?" said Christopher Manney's lawyer Jonathan Cermele.

But Chief Flynn says Manney didn't have that concern.

"It's a tragic outcome, but one that could've been avoided if he had done, if he had in fact followed training," Flynn said.

Testimony in the Manney appeal got underway on Thursday evening.

A session on Monday will be held at a new location. Instead of the Municipal Court building, Monday's session will be held at Centennial Hall in the main branch of the Milwaukee Public Library.

A panel of three Fire and Police Commissioners will ultimately make the decision as to whether Christopher Manney should get his job back.

Phase one of the hearing is focusing on whether Manney violated police policy with his search of Hamilton. If the panel says “yes,” the hearing will go to the next phase. Phase two will determine whether Manney’s punishment (his termination from MPD) was appropriate.

In December, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Manney wouldn't face criminal charges in this case.