Milwaukee Prosecutor Won't Seek Charges In Police Shooting
Eight months after a police officer shot and killed a man whom he had been trying to search as the man slept, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm says the officer acted in self-defense.
The incident occurred in a Milwaukee park at around 4 in the afternoon. Officer Christopher Manney fired his gun 14 times after Dontre Hamilton woke up and grabbed the officer's baton, striking him with it.
From the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:
"This was a tragic incident for the Hamilton family and for the community," Chisholm wrote. "But, based on all the evidence and analysis presented in this report, I come to the conclusion that Officer Manney's use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime."
The announcement comes after months of pressure on Chisholm to make a decision in the case – and a month after the police department fired the officer, Christopher Manney, for violating its procedures in the encounter with Hamilton.
"Manney said he moved to frisk Hamilton in Red Arrow Park and Hamilton resisted, striking the officer with his own baton. Manney then opened fire 14 times, killing Hamilton.
"The 31-year-old was mentally ill and unarmed.
"Two other officers responded earlier to calls of concern about Hamilton, but concluded he was not a threat."
The case has drawn protests in Red Arrow Park, particularly as it has played out against a backdrop of similar instances across the U.S. in which white police officers have used deadly force against black men.
After some 100 demonstrators moved from Red Arrow Park onto Interstate 43 Friday, police arrested 74 people, WUWM reports.
The protesters have included Hamilton's brother, Nate, who said Friday, "You know, I'm sorry that we cause you a small inconvenience. It's to make sure that no family has to go through what we're going through right now."
Nate Hamilton added that he hoped the prosecutor would wait until after this week to make an announcement, saying, "I don't want to have to bear that type of decision before Christmas — nor my mom."
Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke told the station that while the demonstrators' frustration is understandable, the protests have also disrupted the area.
"I can only imagine, because I've never gone through it," Clarke said, "but I can only imagine what the Hamilton family is dealing with right now. I can also say that it has had a destructive effect on the rest of Milwaukee County, and I'm talking about the delay."
Last month, Chisholm told WBUR's Here & Now that he had yet to make a decision in the case, despite receiving an independent state report in August, because he was awaiting a review of Manney's use of force.
Responding toe Chisholm's decision today, the Wisconsin chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement in which it asked, "If Officer Christopher Manney did not violate the law, then is anyone legally responsible for Mr. Hamilton's death? Does the criminal law protect individuals like Mr. Hamilton from deadly force exercised by police officers?"