Dontre Hamilton's family, NAACP, city leaders take part in town hall meeting following "no confidence" vote
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Lawmakers, community leaders and a grieving family came together on Monday night, November 3rd in Milwaukee. A town hall meeting was held -- focusing on the April 30th shooting of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park, and the former Milwaukee police officer who was recently fired in connection with that shooting. Among the topics of discussion, the group looked at ways to improve the relationship between the community and the Milwaukee Police Department.
The Westcare Foundation hosted the town hall meeting and invited Dontre Hamilton's family. Organizers say the police union had its say last week, when members took a "no confidence" vote on Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn. They say this town hall meeting was an opportunity for the community to respond.
Christopher Manney was fired from the Milwaukee Police Department on Wednesday, October 15th for his handling of Dontre 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.
Last Friday, the Milwaukee Police Association held a "no confidence" vote on Chief Flynn as a result of Manney's firing. The police union said 99.3% of its members voted that they have no confidence in Chief Flynn.
“We all know a ‘no confidence’ vote is not binding. But there absolutely is an expectation that the Mayor’s Office would take great notice, the Common Council, certainly the Public Safety Committee and more so than anybody, the Fire and Police Commission would take notice that such a large majority of the force does not have confidence in their leadership,” Milwaukee Police Association President Michael Crivello said Friday.
Dontre Hamilton's brother Nate tells FOX6 News Friday's no confidence vote goes way beyond Chief Flynn.
"We have no confidence in our city period -- not just the union but the Fire and Police Commission, the Mayor`s Office, some of the aldermen. We have no confidence in a lot of people right now. We feel like that was a reckless homicide in Red Arrow Park that it was done with intent. It was done with no protection and rights and Chief Flynn stated that his rights were violated," Nate Hamilton said.
Dontre Hamilton's family supports Manney's termination, but they still want more done. They are calling for a grand jury to investigate this case -- and they want to see criminal charges filed against Manney.
"While we applaud the action taken to discharge the officer, we believe that is only a first step," Milwaukee NAACP President James Hall said.
Many who took part in Monday night's town hall meeting said they're worried about the open support Milwaukee police officers have shown for Manney.
"The relations have already been strained and so to add this to it, I think is very dangerous because the department appears to be losing its legitimacy," James Ferguson with the Westcare Foundation said.
One Milwaukee alderman says last week's no confidence vote against Chief Flynn was disrespectful to the Hamilton family.
"As a representative of the city, it`s an embarrassment to represent those who don`t recognize the sensitivity that`s necessary in dealing with such a tragic loss," Ashanti Hamilton said.
Crivello says the community should know the no confidence vote and the support for Manney won't affect the way officers interact with the public.
"I can assure the community that our officers are absolute professionals and they can expect that the police officers will come to work every day and turn in an honest tour of duty," Crivello said.
The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission meets Thursday, November 6th, and the firing of Christopher Manney is one of the items on the agenda for that meeting.
READ IT: NAACP Milwaukee statement on Dontre Hamilton case
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