Español Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney will not be charged in the shooting and killing of 31 year old Dontre Hamilton, who was sleeping in a park in the Wisconsin city, according to a report released by the County District Attorney’s Office on Monday, December 22.
Manney’s “use of force” was “justified self-defense, and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime,” the report found.
The shooting took place in downtown’s Red Arrow Park on April 30, after police officers were alerted by Starbucks workers about Hamilton sleeping in the park. An internal police investigation said that a pair of officers went to check on Hamilton twice, but found he was doing nothing wrong. Manney then responded to the call, unaware of the officers’ previous visits.
Upon arriving on the scene, Manney found Hamilton lying on the ground, with his leg shaking. Manney stood Hamilton up, and began to pat him down when, according to the police officer, Hamilton trapped his arms. A struggle ensued, in which Manney tried to use his baton, which was then taken by Hamilton and used to hit the officer on the neck.
Manney then retreated, taking hold of his firearm, but Hamilton reportedly continued to advance. The officer then opened fire, shooting Hamilton 14 times.
In Monday’s report, District Attorney John Chisholm concluded that: “After reviewing all the evidence, I believe there can be little serious doubt that P.O. Manney was justified in firing at Dontre Hamilton, who was attacking him with a deadly weapon … The more difficult issue is whether P.O. Manney fired more shots than necessary, or continued firing after he could reasonably perceive that Hamilton was clearly no longer a threat.”
Manney was fired soon after the Hamilton incident, and is currently appealing his termination. Hamilton had a history of mental illness, and police reports stated that the “mental health system failed him.” His family said that he had been treated for schizophrenia and was no longer taking medication, but showed no violent tendencies.
On Tuesday, Hamilton’s relatives led a protest against the district attorney’s decision. A federal review is to investigate whether any civil rights violations took place.
The ruling follows recent protests throughout the United States over decisions to not prosecute police officers for the killing of Eric Garner in New York, and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.