Update 6 p.m. EST: The U.S. attorney in Milwaukee late Monday said the Justice Department would review the Dontre Hamilton case in the wake of the Milwaukee district attorney's decision against pressing charges against the white police officer who shot him, WISN-TV, Milwaukee, reported.
â€” Breaking News (@BreakingNews) December 22, 2014
A lawyer representing the family of Dontre Hamilton, a black, mentally ill Milwaukee man who was shot and killed by a white police officer, is asking for federal charges to be filed in the case now that Milwaukee’s district attorney has declined to indict Christopher Manney. The decision sparked a silent march Monday outside the federal courthouse in Milwaukee and the lockdown of a local mall due to protests at a time when tensions between the public and police are running high across the country.
Hamilton, 31, was shot 14 times April 30 by Manney after the officer responded to a call of a man sleeping in a park. Hamilton allegedly gained control of the officer’s baton and hit him with it, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Two officers previously had responded to the call and left Hamilton alone after they determined he wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Manney was fired by Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn in October, but not because of the shooting. The chief said Manney didn’t follow department rules when he gave Hamilton an “out-of-policy pat down,” adding the officer should not have perceived Hamilton as dangerous, the paper reported. "This intentional action, in violation of training and policy, instigated a physical confrontation that resulted in a deadly use of force," the chief said.
Still, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said Monday Manney wouldn’t be charged in Hamilton’s death. "This was a tragic incident for the Hamilton family and for the community," Chisholm wrote, according to the Journal-Sentinel. "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."
Chisholm had been reviewing the case since the day of the shooting and made the decision not to indict Manney Monday. The decision came two days after two New York City police officers were shot and killed in their patrol car by a black man who claimed the killings were in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
Manney is the third white police officer not to face charges in the death of an unarmed black man in the last two months. In November, former Ferguson, Missouri, Police Officer Darren Wilson wasn’t indicted in the August death of Brown, 18, and New York City Police Officer Daniel Panteleo wasn’t charged in the July death of Garner, 43, on Staten Island.
The decision not to charge Manney led to a silent protest at the federal courthouse in Milwaukee, where demonstrators raised their fists in the air:
â€” Priscilla Luong (@priscillaluong) December 22, 2014
Meanwhile, reports surfaced on Twitter the Grand Avenue mall in Milwaukee was on lockdown after protesters brought their demonstration to the area:
Huge crowd chanting "Dontre Hamilton!" right now along Wisconsin Avenue around the Grand Avenue Mall. pic.twitter.com/Fu5lGdTLfV
â€” James E. Causey (@jecausey) December 22, 2014
â€” deray mckesson (@deray) December 22, 2014
Jonathan Safran, a lawyer representing Hamilton’s family, also called for federal charges to be filed.
“After waiting now for almost eight months since Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed at Red Arrow Park by former city of Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney, the Hamilton family and their attorneys are extremely disappointed in District Attorney John Chisholm’s decision in this case,” Safran said in a statement. “This is a case which cries out for justice, criminal charges against Christopher Manney, and accountability to Dontre Hamilton’s family.”
He said civil rights charges “are warranted in this case.”
The decision not to indict Manney also led to outrage on Twitter, where users used the hashtag #DontreHamilton to vent their anger:
â€” Reham Alhelsi (@Palestine_Sumud) December 22, 2014
The saddest thing to me is that I'm still a tiny bit surprised that 14 shots means no conviction #DontreHamilton We should be ashamed.
â€” zakiyyah alexander (@model_minority) December 22, 2014
Sad day for our community #DontreHamilton No justice No peace..... Protest downtown Milwaukee
â€” Lala LuvinMe (@SuchALadyLala) December 22, 2014
The whole damn system is guilty as hell. #DontreHamilton
â€” Social Justice Mage (@gesa) December 22, 2014