MILWAUKEE — A white Milwaukee police officer fired after fatally shooting a mentally ill black man in April won’t face criminal charges, the county’s top prosecutor said Monday, while the U.S. attorney said hours later that there will be a federal investigation of the case.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Christopher Manney shot Dontre Hamilton in self-defense. Manney is at least the third white police officer to avoid charges in the past month after a confrontation that led to a black man’s death.
“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,” Chisholm said in a statement.
After waiting eight months for the decision, Hamilton’s family reacted with disappointment and anger. At an emotional news conference on the steps of the federal courthouse, family attorneys said they had called for a federal investigation. They also urged that protests be peaceful “so as not to dishonor Dontre’s name and the Hamilton family name.”
But Hamilton’s brother Nate spoke bitterly, saying “we don’t have to be the voice of reason.”
“We need to take our communities back. We need to protect each other. We need to stop the violence in our communities so we can get rid of these pigs that kill us,” he said to shouts and applause.
His remarks came just two days after two New York City police officers were ambushed in their patrol car. Police said that attack was carried out by a man who posted online about putting “wings on pigs.”
Jon Safran, a Hamilton family attorney, later said Nate Hamilton doesn’t condone “any type of violence” and that the family was dealing with “great anxiety and frustration right now.”
About eight hours after Chisholm announced his decision, U.S. Attorney James Santelle said the Department of Justice, along with his office and the FBI, will conduct a review to determine if there was a violation of federal civil rights law.
Manney shot Hamilton, 31, after responding to a call for a welfare check on a man sleeping in a park. Manney said Hamilton resisted when he tried to frisk him. The two exchanged punches before Hamilton got hold of Manney’s baton and hit him on the neck, the former officer has said. Manney opened fire, hitting Hamilton 14 times.
Flynn fired Manney in October. He said at the time that Manney correctly identified Hamilton as mentally ill, but ignored department policy and treated him as a criminal by frisking him.
Hamilton’s family said he suffered from schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medication.