MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Those who support Dontre Hamilton are denouncing Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's decision NOT to criminally charge former Milwaukee Police Office Christopher Manney in connection with Hamilton's death, but now that the decision has been announced, some are focused on the future.
The distress call made by Christopher Manney on April 30th after he shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in downtown Milwaukee's Red Arrow Park and dash cam video from the scene are evidence of a tragedy that cannot be erased.
"Officer-involved. Guy started beating me with my baton. Started hitting me in the head with my own baton. I don't even know if I was hit. It was close. I need officers to help me. I may have been hit with a baton but I'm okay," Manney says in the audio recording from that day.
Dontre Hamilton's family members and other supporters have been demonstrating since the shooting, and another rally was planned for Tuesday evening, following the District Attorney's announcement of his decision. Meanwhile, the United States Attorney has announced the United States Department of Justice will undertake a federal review of the case to determine if, under federal civil rights law, there is a basis, both legal and factual, upon which a federal civil rights prosecution may be premised. This review will be conducted by the FBI, the Office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the Civil Rights Division.
A federal investigation could look at the totality of the situation that led to Dontre Hamilton's death.
"Obviously in our minds if the pat down had not occurred, the altercation would never have occurred and the shooting would never have occurred," Hamilton family attorney Jonathan Safran said.
In firing Manney, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said he 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, 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.
Hamilton's family's attorney says another next step for Dontre Hamilton's family will involve Christopher Manney's appeal -- with the family hoping community involvement and support will encourage the Fire and Police Commission to uphold Manney's firing.
"I'm going to try to contact the Fire and Police Commission to try to find out -- now that the criminal charging decision is made by the District Attorney that they schedule that appeals hearing," Safran said.
Hamilton's family's attorney says the family would like the federal government to look into the actions of the Milwaukee Police Department as a whole.
"We continue to request too that there be that patterns and practices investigation. We've been hearing since and before the Derek Williams case as to where that investigation may be," Safran said.
The Hamilton family would also like the focus to remain on help for Milwaukee's mentally ill.
"We've been working for four years to improve the mental health care in this county. We didn't wait. We reached out two years ago to work with police and help them train people on mental illness. Will we do more? I think we need to take this opportunity as a community and talk about something that doesn't get talked about enough," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.
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