No federal charges against ex-Milwaukee cop: Justice Dept

11 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

FBI: Federal Officials Close Review into the Death of Dontre Hamilton.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The U.S. The US Justice Department said on Tuesday it would not pursue civil rights charges against a white Milwaukee police officer who shot a mentally ill black man 14 times in a city park last year. The department said in a news release there was insufficient evidence to warrant charging Christopher Manney in the April 2014 killing of Dontre Hamilton, who was schizophrenic but not violent, according to his family. 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.

Officials from the United States Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI met today with Hamilton’s family and their representatives to inform them of this decision. According to Manney’s attorney, Jonathan Cermele, Manny had a suspicion that Hamilton was armed and felt Hamilton may have been more of a threat than he appeared when he stood up to talk to him and raised his arms as if inviting the officer to frisk him.

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. Hamilton family attorney Jonathan Safran said his clients were “extremely disappointed” with both the decision and the 10 months it took federal authorities to complete their review. “The Hamilton family has seen no accountability to date for Dontre’s death,” Safran said. “It appears that the only way for the full facts to be analyzed and the accountability to be provided will be by way of a civil rights lawsuit to be filed by the Hamilton family attorneys in federal court. 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.

The team of experienced federal prosecutors and FBI agents considered whether Manney violated federal law by willfully using unreasonable force against Hamilton. To establish willfulness, federal authorities must show that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. 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.

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. Flynn, meanwhile, said his department has been committed to reform and has reduced uses of force, citizen complaints and the number of people injured by police. Hamilton’s mother, Maria Hamilton, started a support group for mothers whose children have died in police encounters and took part in a “Million Moms” march in Washington last May. Limited copyright is granted for you to use and/or republish any story on this site for any legitimate media purpose as long as you reference 7thSpace and any source mentioned in the story above.

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