Dontre Hamilton, Christopher Manney supporters face off at Fire and Police Commission meeting

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Much of the meeting of Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission Thursday evening, November 6th focused on the shooting of Dontre Hamilton. 31-year-old Hamilton was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer in Red Arrow Park last April. That officer, Christopher Manney, has been fired by Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn -- a termination Manney is appealing. Following Chief Flynn's decision to fire Manney,  the Milwaukee Police Association held a “no confidence” vote on Chief Flynn.  The police union said 99.3% of Milwaukee police officers who participated in the union vote indicated that they have no confidence in Chief Flynn.

Dontre Hamilton's family members and supporters, and those who support Manney were on hand for Thursday evening's Fire and Police Commission meeting at the Washington Park Senior Center.

Hamilton's family members and supporters have been holding demonstrations since the shooting. While they've said they're pleased Chief Flynn fired Manney, they're asking that criminal charges be filed against him. The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office is the agency that will decide whether charges should be filed against Manney. That agency has yet to make its decision.

This case began on April 30th -- when Dontre Hamilton was sleeping in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney came to the park to do a welfare check on Hamilton. As Manney performed a pat down of Hamilton, checking him for weapons, police say Hamilton grabbed Manney's baton and began striking him with it. That's when Manney fired his weapon repeatedly -- killing Hamilton.

In firing Manney, Chief Flynn said his reason for doing so wasn’t Manney’s deadly use of force, but rather, the events leading up to it.

Chief Flynn said he has reviewed every aspect of this incident, and has found that Manney violated the values of the Milwaukee Police Department in his handling of Dontre Hamilton. Chief Flynn said Officer Manney showed no malice in his actions on that April day, but he says Manney made errors in judgement. Chief Flynn said when Manney arrived at the scene he should have immediately assessed Hamilton as an “emotionally disturbed person” and treated him as such — saying Manney’s unwarranted, out-of-policy pat down of Hamilton escalated the situation — leading to the necessary use of deadly force.

Manney has filed an appeal of his termination with the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.

READ IT: Manney's first letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, dated October 1st.

READ IT: Manney's second letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, dated October 14th.

READ IT: Christopher Manney's appeal letter

In taking a "no confidence" vote on Chief Flynn, the Milwaukee Police Association says officers are now afraid to pat down suspects for weapons -- fearing for their jobs.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett spoke with FOX6 News on Thursday -- ahead of the Fire and Police Commission's meeting. He continues to say he's disappointed in the no confidence vote.

"I thought that was internal politics for the Milwaukee Police Association -- that they want to be in the fight, if you will. It doesnt diminish my confidence in the Chief whatsoever. I don't think it diminishes the public's confidence in the Chief whatsoever and I support the Chief and I support the hard working men and women who support the city of Milwaukee as police officers," Mayor Barrett said.

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission will eventually hold hearings on Manney's appeal of his termination.

Thursday evening's meeting was an opportunity for those who support Hamilton and those who support Manney to speak out.

It was the first time Manney's supporters turned out in large numbers to speak on his behalf -- but it was not easy for them to get their message across.

"The police do not go around shooting people just for the fun of it. They don't do it and this is a racial thing. They're making this a racial thing and it's not," John Mallum, a Manney supporter said.

Dontre Hamilton supporters, during Thursday night's meeting, faced Manney's supporters and chanted that he should face charges. Manney's supporters stood silently.

Among those demonstrating and showing their support for Hamilton Thursday evening was his mom, Maria.

"We're here for justice and if they don't stand for that justice that's on them. We're here for the community. We're here for my family and we're here for Dontre Hamilton," Maria Hamilton said.

During the meeting, demonstrators made their voices heard, even before it was their chance to speak. They demanded the Fire and Police Commission uphold Chief Flynn's firing of Manney.

"If any other community individual had shot and killed a man 14 times, he would be in jail already," Maria Hamilton said.

Demonstrators worked to drown out anyone who tried to speak on behalf of Manney during Thursday's meeting.

Chief Flynn was also yelled at by demonstrators during the meeting, as he checked his cell phone throughout the night. Chief Flynn was checking for updates on a five-year-old girl who was shot. He became angry and emotional speaking with FOX6 News after the meeting.

"I was following developments with a five-year-old little girl who was sitting on her (grandfather's) lap and just got shot in the head. If some of the people here gave a good goddamn about the victimization of people in this community by crime I'd take some of their invective more seriously," Chief Flynn said.

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