Was a pat-down reasonable? Milwaukee Police Chief says Manney had "no good reason"

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Was a pat-down reasonable? It's the question that defines the debate over whether Christopher Manney should've been fired from the Milwaukee Police Department. Friday, a man who trains officers for a living took FOX6 News through the factors police must consider.

Brian Dorow runs the Criminal Justice Program at Waukesha Community Technical College. He does not comment on specific cases, but sat down with FOX6 News to talk about what an officer looks for when deciding whether a pat-down is necessary.

Again, Police Chief Ed Flynn says Officer Manney was fired, not for his use of deadly force -- but for his decision to pat-down Dontre Hamilton in the first place.

"Can the officer detect some type of violence erupting? Is the officer comfortable? Don't want to put the officer in any danger," said Dorow.

Criminal Justice Dean, Brian Dorow emphasizes each situation is unique, no one encounter is the same as another.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says, considering that two officers had previously checked on Dontre Hamilton twice that day, Officer Christopher Manney had no good reason to pat-down the 31-year-old man -- who relatives say was schizophrenic.

"We've got training and protocols that guide our approach to people that are apparently mentally ill. Going hand-on with a pat-down that was not justified by a reasonable suspicion resulted in the confrontation," said Flynn.

Manney shot Hamilton to death when police say Hamilton took Manney's baton during a struggle and hit the officer with it.

Police Union President, Mike Crivello, says Manney's firing is an outrage, that no one else knows what Manney saw and felt during that April encounter.

"It is an officer's assessment of the situation which determines whether an approach or safety pat-down is conducted -- not a bright-line rule reduced to confined reasoning in a book," said Dorow.

Dorow says each department has its own policy regarding reasonable suspicion. He adds, regardless of previous encounters, officers have to make decisions based on what they see in that very moment.

"These are the most challenging situations, okay? They're challenging because you encounter somebody, whether they're mentally ill or they're not, and there's always that concern - is this person armed? What threat do they present to me? said Dorow.

Dorow says whether one or two officers are at the scene should not be a deciding factor in whether police pat someone down. But again, he emphasizes every situation is unique -- that even in the same setting, the threat level can change from one encounter to the next.