Officer who fatally shot Dontre Hamilton fired from the Milwaukee Police Department
MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn has announced the firing of Officer Christopher Manney for his handling of Dontre Hamilton when the two met in Red Arrow Park on April 30th. 31-year-old Hamilton was shot and killed during a struggle that occurred with Manney.
Chief Flynn said Wednesday, October 15th he signed an order, terminating Officer Manney from the Milwaukee Police Department -- but Chief Flynn says his reason for firing Manney wasn't his 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 he has determined that Manney's shooting of Dontre Hamilton was a necessary use of force. However, he says when Manney arrived at the scene he should have immediately assessed Hamilton as an "emotionally disturbed person" and treated him as such.
"Christopher Manney treated Hamilton as though he were a dangerous criminal, instead of following his training. If the outcome had been benign, we would be looking at a training issue, but the outcome matters," Chief Flynn said.
Chief Flynn says Manney should not have proceeded to pat down Hamilton -- saying that pat down escalated the situation.
"This was not a call of a mentally ill man waving a gun. This was not a call of a mentally ill man threatening to kill other people. This was a check welfare call. There's a set of training and approaches that you are taught, and you don't go hands on and start frisking somebody only because they appear to be mentally ill," Chief Flynn said when he addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon.
Following that pat down, a confrontation ensued in which Hamilton grabbed Manney's baton and started to hit him with it. That's when Hamilton was fatally shot.
"There was no malice in his decision. He did not act outside of policy using the force he used. Bad tactics and bad decisions resulted in this escalation that necessitated a use of deadly force," Chief Flynn said.
A statement released by Chief Flynn Wednesday discusses the events of April 30th, after Officer Manney responded to Red Arrow Park:
"Officer Manney approached Mr. Hamilton, identified himself, and asked Mr. Hamilton to stand up. When Mr. Hamilton stood up, Officer Manney approached Mr. Hamilton from behind, reached under Mr. Hamilton’s arms, placed his hands on Mr. Hamilton’s chest to conduct a pat down search, and asked if Mr. Hamilton had any weapons. As Officer Manney began the search, Mr. Hamilton began fighting with Officer Manney and a violent physical confrontation ensued. Officer Manney and Mr. Hamilton engaged in a series of punches and strikes to each others’ heads and faces. Officer Manney then attempted to use his baton to subdue Mr. Hamilton, but Hamilton was able to take the baton from Officer Manney. Mr. Hamilton swung the baton at Officer Manney multiple times and struck Officer Manney on the side of the neck with the baton. Fearing that Mr. Hamilton would seriously injure or kill him, Officer Manney transitioned to his service weapon and discharged rounds at Mr. Hamilton to stop the threat. Mr. Hamilton died of his wounds."
Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn
The president of the Milwaukee Police Association, Mike Crivello, released the following statement on the matter:
“The use of deadly force by an officer is a difficult decision that must be made accurately and instantaneously – the MPA is confident in the officer’s training and trust the action taken was of necessity.” …”there is no doubt that the officer involved in this situation wishes he wasn’t – officer’s come to work each and every day hoping to affect life to the positive, not to be forced into a deadly force scenario” …“with that being said, we wish for peace for the family of Dontre; our officer has expressed concern and compassion for the family as well” … “as to the MPD leadership and City leadership, today is an unfortunate day – the decision to terminate this officer is cowardice and certainly unfounded and unsupported by fact.”
Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan issued the following statement on this latest development:
"It’s been brought to my attention that the officer involved in the Red Arrow Park shooting has been or will soon be fired by the Milwaukee Police Department. If that is indeed the case, I am saddened and sickened by the way it seems some people are apparently playing politics. I find it hard to believe that, without looking over the report from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and without yet knowing the district attorney’s decision, Chief Flynn feels he has sufficient grounds at this point to fire this officer. Decisions like this need to be based on facts and should not be influenced by anything other than a thorough investigation. Although I too am frustrated with how long the process is taking, firing this officer now is unjust and unfair. Cooler heads need to prevail, and before decisions like this are made, we need to know what the investigation revealed. Even if the officer was guilty of these alleged rule violations, under normal circumstances they would never, be considered grounds for firing. To me, this entire matter reeks of politics."
For the last several months, family and supporters of the Hamilton family have protested the lack of a decision on charging in this case. The protestors also wanted the name of the officer who shot Hamilton to be made public — and the injuries the officer is said to have suffered that day to be detailed.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office will make the final decision as to whether any criminal charges will be filed in Dontre Hamilton’s death.
When asked about possible criminal charges Wednesday, Chief Flynn said he found the deadly use of force to be justified, but he stopped short of saying exactly what he thinks the District Attorney should decide.
The state's Department of Criminal Investigation has completed its investigation into this incident -- and has handed its findings over to the District Attorney's Office. Subsequently, the District Attorney's Office ordered a second independent investigation be conducted in the case.
Officials with the District Attorney’s Office tell FOX6 News the FBI is reviewing the specific question of the use of force. We’re told a national use of force expert is also reviewing the use of force in this case. The D.A.’s Office says a local police agency has already reviewed the use of force in this case. Which agency that is, hasn’t been made clear.
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