Justice Dept. says former Milwaukee police officer won’t face civil rights …

10 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Federal prosecutors say they will not pursue charges against Milwaukee officer who killed man.

WASHINGTON — Federal authorities declined to bring criminal civil rights charges against a former Milwaukee police officer, concluding Tuesday that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Christopher Manney in last year’s fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton. Citing the high federal standard required to show that Manney acted with specific intent, the Justice Department announced that investigators could not show “beyond a reasonable doubt,” that the then-officer’s action violated the law. “The decision is limited strictly to an application of the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statute,” the Justice statement said. “It does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the incident that led to Hamilton’s death.” The fatal encounter involving Hamilton, a black man, and Manney, a white officer, at a local park where Hamilton was alleged to be sleeping prompted public protests throughout the city. Dontre Hamilton was sleeping near a Starbucks kiosk in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee when one of the kiosk’s employees contacted police about him, according to a report released last year by John Chisholm, Milwaukee’s district attorney. The officer was dismissed from the force in the aftermath of the shooting for not following department protocol and treating Hamilton as a criminal suspect when he was initially identified as mentally ill.

Christopher Manney, at the time an officer with the Milwaukee Police Department, said he later approached Hamilton and tried to pat him down before Hamilton began trying to punch him, beginning a physical confrontation that ended when Manney fired about 14 shots at Hamilton. On the evening April 30, 2014, Hamilton, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, was sleeping on a park bench when employees from a nearby Starbucks called the police because they thought he was disturbing the peace. Hamilton’s death was one of several high-profile incidents in recent years involving black men who are killed by police, episodes that have sparked protests across the country and a sustained movement questioning how officers use deadly force. Six months later, Manney was fired because he did not follow the department’s policies regarding how to deal with emotionally disturbed people, Edward Flynn, the police chief, announced at a news conference.

In a statement, Hamilton’s family and their attorneys said they are “extremely disappointed with the decision, and are also dismayed by the length of time it took the federal government to make this decision.” Manney had said after the shooting he thought Hamilton had mental health issues or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the encounter began.

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