by Ariele Vaccaro
The police officer responsible for the shooting death of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in April isn’t going to leave the force without a fight. He filed an appeal for his termination on Friday Oct. 17. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn had fired him two days before on the grounds that the officer, Christopher Manney, didn’t handle the situation according to protocol.
Manney gave his appeal to the Fire and Police Commission. With it, he could attempt to secure duty disability funds for the mental trauma he claims to have suffered due to the incident.
Flynn held a press conference on Oct. 15, during which he announced Manney’s termination. He noted that Manney accurately characterized Hamilton as emotionally unstable, but “treated him as though he were a dangerous criminal.” He said that to do so was to neglect his training. In addition, Flynn mentioned that Manney performed a pat-down without reasonable suspicion – a motion that was also against training and protocol. Although Flynn concluded that Manney’s use of deadly force did adhere to policy, he found that what Manney did beforehand justified his termination.
The motion by Flynn happened after another protest in a series of protests led by the Coalition for Justice, a group that formed in reaction to Hamilton’s killing in April. The group met at Red Arrow Park at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 10. Hamilton’s mother, Maria Hamilton, and brother, Nathaniel Hamilton, joined the crowd that eventually made its way to the Milwaukee Police Administration Building. Milwaukee police officers met them at the building’s garage and did their best to keep the protesters from entering. The officers did not make any arrests.
“No justice, no compromise,” protesters chanted on Oct. 10 as they marched from Red Arrow Park where 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton was allegedly shot 14 times and killed by Chris Manney. Nearly six months after the April shooting, investigators from outside the Milwaukee Police Department has concluded its examination of the case.
According to the Coalition for Justice Facebook page, the group called for the “public release of the name of the officer involved in the shooting.” The Hamilton family had publicly announced that it believed Chris Manney killed Dontre Hamilton, but Flynn did not confirm their claim until Manney’s termination.
In addition, the coalition asked for the “public release of the incident report for the officer involved in the shooting”. This request stood unfulfilled for months while outside detectives continued a long investigation. Although some blamed the length of the investigation on complicated new laws requiring outside forces to inspect cases involving possible police brutality, others find that the wait is excessive, nonetheless.
Common Council member, Milele Coggs, made an open records request for the Criminal Investigation Commission’s report on Hamilton’s death in September. As of the end of the month, Coggs still hadn’t received the report, despite its earlier completion and transfer to the District Attorney’s (DA’s) office.
In a press release, Coggs admitted she considered Milwaukee DA, John Chrisholm, was still reviewing it, but noted there was feasible no reason she couldn’t see it while he made his decision.
“As, by definition, the investigation by the CID is complete, I can see no reason—legal or otherwise—why this report should now be withheld,” Coggs wrote.
According to the release, Coggs wanted the report to be with Hamilton family and the public.
Hamilton’s family and the Coalition for Justice have been actively protesting since Hamilton’s death. Since, the family has been able to meet with Milwaukee Police Chief Flynn, three Department of Justice investigators, and Hamilton’s medical examiner. Six months after the shooting, now, Hamilton’s killer no longer works for the MPD.
Not everyone is happy with this resolution, however. Ald. Bob Donovan disagrees with Manney’s termination. On Oct. 16 Donovan joined the Milwaukee Police Association to voice his opposition to Manney’s firing. According to an Oct. 20 article by CBS 58, Donovan called Manney a “scapegoat for the racially-charged environment we live in.”
Dontre Hamilton’s death is not the only police shooting that took place this past year. Michael Brown’s death by a Ferguson, MO police officer received attention at the national level and lead to nonviolent protests as well as violent riots that left a city in a state of relative ruin.