Update on shooting of Dontre Hamilton by Officer Christopher Manney

On April 30, 2014, 78 days before Eric Garner was killed and 101 days before Darren Wilson shot and killed Mike Brown in Ferguson Missouri, Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney shot and killed Dontre Hamilton.

Watch Dontre’s brother react 

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

After Dontre Hamilton was spotted sleeping in Red Arrow Park across from City Hall, two police officers showed up after being called, looked at the situation and then left.

Hamilton, an unarmed man with a history of paranoid schizophrenia, was killed April 30.

Workers at the nearby Starbucks called police to complain about Hamilton, 31, sleeping in the park. A pair of officers checked on him and found he was doing nothing wrong.

Manney, the beat officer in the area, was not aware the other officers already had been to the park when he retrieved a voice mail regarding Hamilton’s presence there.

then officer Christopher Manney arrived

Police Chief Edward Flynn said the 38-year-old officer, a 13-year veteran of the department, had been dispatched to the park about 3:30 p.m. after a call involving the suspect.

When he arrived, the suspect was lying on the ground near the park, Flynn said at a news conference outside City Hall.

Flynn said the officer helped the suspect to his feet and began to speak with him. As the officer began patting the man down, a struggle ensued. The officer withdrew his wooden baton and began to defend himself, Flynn said. During the struggle, the man took the baton from the officer and began to beat the officer in the head.

“The officer withdrew his sidearm and fired several shots at the individual, striking him numerous times and ultimately causing his death,” Flynn said.

Flynn said he did not know how many of the shots struck the man. An autopsy has been scheduled.

In October 2014, Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Officer Manney, not for excessive, unjustified use of force against a mentally ill unarmed black man, but for not following police procedure during the stop and after the shooting occurred

fired because he did not follow department procedures for dealing with emotionally disturbed people, Chief Edward Flynn announced Wednesday.

The officer, Christopher Manney, did not use excessive force when he shot Hamilton 14 times, Flynn said; rather, the officer did not follow department rules in the moments leading up to the shooting.

Chief Flynn added 

“We’re not talking war crimes here. We’re not talking that every cop that makes a mistake has to face grand juries and go to jail, but there has to be a consequence,” Flynn said. “We don’t need to demonize this officer in order to hold him accountable for his decisions.”

Manney is entitled to appeal his dismissal to the civilian Fire and Police Commission.

No one on either side of the issue was happy that Officer Manney was fired

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn’s decision to fire the officer who fatally shot Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park has not satisfied people on either side.

Not the Hamilton family, who see the firing as a good step, but want the officer, Christopher Manney, criminally charged. Not local protesters, who support the Hamilton family and believe the shooting is symptomatic of larger issues within the department.

Not the police union and many of Manney’s fellow officers, who decried the chief’s decision as cowardice. And certainly not Manney himself, who “vehemently” disputed the dismissal and filed for duty disability retirement, saying the April 30 shooting and its aftermath resulted in severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

After claiming severe PTSD resulting from the media coverage of the shooting of Dontre Hamilton, Officer Manney filed for disability benefits.  Because he filed for disability before he was fired in October, even though Dontre was shot in April, Officer Manney could still get his benefits.

Two days before the firing, Manney filed for disability retirement, a program designed as a safety net for Milwaukee police and firefighters who suffer physical or psychological injuries on the job. If approved, Manney’s retirement — which would include about 75% of his salary, tax-free — will take precedence over his dismissal because he applied before he was fired.

Manney is among an increasing number of officers suspected of misconduct who have applied for duty disability claiming debilitating stress — sometimes even citing the department’s investigation or media coverage as the cause of that stress.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation published last year found at least five police officers had received duty disability during or after a disciplinary investigation since 2006. Because the former officers don’t have to pay taxes on the money, their take-home pay is about the same as when they were working. Manney, who was hired in 2001, received total pay of about $72,000 in 2012.

I had originally remembered that Manney was claiming PTSD from media coverage of the shooting, but in his response to the charges he says his PTSD is from the actual shooting (or it’s not clear which “incident” he refers to)


He also talks about how “dangerous” it is to be a police officer






The reason cops “fear for their lives” is that they are trained that way.  They don’t watch videos of unarmed people being killed by police the same way we do.  They’re reaction is that no one wants to be arrested so they all say “take me to the hospital instead” or “I can’t breathe.”  They don’t see it as a cry for help, they see it as resisting arrest.  When asked about police brutality they deflect onto “black on black crime

They watch police being killed at traffic stops instead.

what is less-known outside of law enforcement circles is that police officers have their own canon of disturbing videos: a collection of widely viewed and much-discussed field recordings in which their fellow officers are killed or gravely injured in the line of duty.

And if that wasn’t enough, Officer Manney then sued to get his job back (and luckily lost). The hearing was the first time he had been heard from in public since the shooting in April 

“I want to return to duty,” Manney said. “I want to return, it’s who I am. I’m a cop. The doctors, they say I can’t, but that doesn’t hide the fact that I was wrongfully terminated.”

Manney was not criminally charged in the shooting, nor was he disciplined for the use of force. 

Manney testified during the fourth day of his disciplinary appeal, which is similar to a trial with a panel of three Fire and Police Commission members taking the role of jurors.

During the first phase of the hearing 

the panel must determine whether Manney broke a rule. If so, the appeal moves to a second phase in which the panel determines whether the discipline imposed is appropriate.

Manney’s defense then called Robert C. Willis, who is considered an expert in Defense and Arrest Tactics.

“I believe the pat-down was lawful and there were many, many reasons the pat-down was lawful and as I said earlier, I’m not even sure the pat-down even commenced,” Willis testified.

Willis is a frequent expert witness in police misconduct cases and has a history of backing police officers.

And Officer Manney is still allowed to appeal this decision as well 

Manney can still appeal his termination in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. The panel’s decision does not affect his pending application for duty disability retirement because he applied before he was fired.

In May he filed his appeal to get his job back

Manney has filed an appeal in an effort to get his job back.

The appeal was filed Tuesday, May 5th with the Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office and the Fire and Police Commission.

In final and unanimous decisions, a Fire and Police Commission panel ruled March 23rd Manney would not get his job back. The decisions came after a five-day appeal hearing. The panel ruled Manney violated MPD policy and procedure when he performed that pat down, and also that Manney’s use of force on April 30th was a violation of policy. The panel then decided to uphold Manney’s permanent termination from MPD.

Phase one of Manney’s appeal hearing involved two questions: 1) Did Manney violate MPD’s protocol and code of conduct in his pat down of Dontre Hamilton — and 2) Did Manney’s use of force violate MPD’s protocol and code of conduct?

The Fire and Police Commission panel said “yes” to those questions — with all three commissioners on the panel signing the ruling. In phase two, the commissioners ruled that Chief Flynn’s firing of Manney was appropriate and justified.

In his firing of Manney, Chief Flynn said Manney’s actions escalated the interaction with a mentally ill man to the point deadly force was necessary. In his closing statements during the appeal hearing before the FPC panel, Chief Flynn’s attorney argued Manney should be held responsible.

The case now goes back to the court system. A judge will decide whether Manney will get his job back.

The Fire and Police Commission has five days to notify the circuit court that an appeal has been filed. Once the court is notified, the appeal will be assigned to the court and a judge.

In December, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Manney wouldn’t face criminal charges in this case.

In June as part of the larger Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Act (H.R. 2578) Wisconsin Representative Gwen Moore introduced an amendment related to the killing of Dontre Hamilton that 

transfers $2 million into the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act for the purpose of expanding and improving police training to safely and appropriately respond to mentally ill individuals.

Mr. Chair, indulge me for a moment while I tell you a story about a 31-year- old man in my home district of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us today. His name was Dontre Hamilton. Dontre, like many people in this country, suffered from a mental illness. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia 1 year prior to the incident and had been off his medication due to an insurance issue. On April 30 of last year, Dontre was taking a nap on a public park bench when employees of a nearby Starbucks called the police. Two police officers came and did a wellness check and left the scene, discerning that Mr. Hamilton was no threat to himself, nor to anyone in the park or the public. Soon thereafter, yet another call came from the Starbucks employee because this gentleman was sleeping on the public park bench. Another police officer, Officer Manney of the Milwaukee Police Department, arrived and started to pat down Dontre. This pat-down turned into a struggle, and Officer Manney pulled outhis baton to help him subdue Mr. Hamilton. The struggle escalated, and Dontre got control of the baton and swung it at Officer Manney. This caused Officer Manney to draw his firearm and shoot 14 bullets into Dontre Hamilton. Officer Manney was terminated for conducting a pat-down in contravention of his training on dealing with mentally ill individuals but faced no charges in the death of Dontre Hamilton. Mr. Chair, perhaps this tragedy could have been prevented. Too often, our mental health infrastructure is woefully inadequate for many Americans. A lack of treatment can turn a treatable mental illness into a severe debilitating condition. Many can’t hold a job or pay rent. Many end up homeless on the streets. In fact, more than 124,000 of the 610,000 homeless people in the United States suffer from a severe mental illness. As a result of many failures in our system, our Nation’s police officers have de facto become our country’s first responders to crisis calls, including those individuals experiencing mental illness. Too often these calls, many intended to be out of concern for the individual in crisis, become a tragic fatality. As we know, mentally ill persons are not generally dangerous, Mr. Chair. In fact, they are actually more likely to become victims themselves than actual perpetrators of violence. Many of these tragic encounters could be prevented if police officers are trained and follow proper procedures.

Then in July Representative Moore and Senator Baldwin sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch regarding the Department of Justice investigation into the shooting of Dontre Hamilton

In response to mounting frustration over the Department of Justice’s lack of expedience in the assessment of potential civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting death of Dontre Hamilton,Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent the following letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch:

Attorney General Lynch,

We write to express our concern about the slow pace of the federal review of potential civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, and federal “pattern and practice” review of the Milwaukee Police Department. We respectfully encourage the Department of Justice to expedite these reviews and to provide the Hamilton family with an update on the status of its efforts around Dontre’s death. It has been more than fourteen months since that tragedy occurred. It has been more than six months since Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm declined to file charges against Office Christopher Manney in relation to the shooting and U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle announced a federal review of the case. However, according to the Hamilton family, they have not received any updates as to the status of this review. Furthermore, U.S. Attorney Santelle began to solicit information from members of the Milwaukee community as early as October 2012 in support of a potential “pattern and practice” investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department. This announcement came after the July 2011 in-custody death of Derek Williams, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. While we understand that the Justice Department continues to solicit community complaints about the conduct of the Milwaukee Police Department, we share the concern and frustration of the Milwaukee community with the pace of this review. We continue to hear from Milwaukee constituents who are fearful and distrustful of law enforcement, particularly after the deaths of Derek Williams and Dontre Hamilton. We believe tangible progress on these federal investigations will help to restore trust between the Milwaukee Police Department and the broader community and can lead to the implementation of policies and practices that will better protect our officers and better serve the people of Milwaukee. Law enforcement personnel have extremely difficult jobs and they put their lives on the line every day to help keep our communities safe. In Milwaukee, there has been an alarming increase in violence in recent months and, now more than ever, we must ensure that there is trust between police and the people they serve to help reduce crime and strengthen this community. Thank you again for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you going forward.

Sincerely,

Senator Tammy Baldwin
Representative Gwen Moore


We will not stop until we get Justice for Dontre Hamilton and the too many more unarmed black men and women and transgender people killed by police with no accountability! 
#BlackLivesMatter

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