Home / News / News Features / After Five Months of Silence, Dontre Hamilton’s Family Names MPD Officer in Red Arrow Park Shooting

After Five Months of Silence, Dontre Hamilton’s Family Names MPD Officer in Red Arrow Park Shooting

Also call for Flynn resignation and cameras on cops

Sep. 24, 2014
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At a very frustrating meeting of last Thursday’s Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC), the family of Dontre Hamilton named the Milwaukee Police officer who fatally shot Hamilton in Red Arrow Park in April.

“Christopher Manney is the officer that shot my brother 14 times,” Nathaniel Hamilton said.

In a public forum, the FPC, as well as MPD Chief Edward Flynn, sat stony-faced as the Hamilton family and their supporters were given two minutes each to speak out about their concerns regarding the Hamilton investigation, police harassment of black Milwaukeeans and the potential use of body cameras on officers.

The family is frustrated by the MPD’s and District Attorney’s Office’s lack of transparency following the shooting of Hamilton.

Almost five months after the April 30 shooting, the incident report hasn’t been made public, nor has the name of the officer—until the FPC forum.

In a private meeting with Chisholm, the Hamilton family learned Manney’s name, but was told that more tests needed to be done to verify details of the incident.

Allegedly, Hamilton had been sleeping in Red Arrow Park Downtown when he was awakened by an MPD officer. Hamilton is said to have grabbed the officer’s baton before being shot 14 times by the cop.

Nathaniel Hamilton said that he doubted that his brother attacked the officer.

“They showed us pictures of this man who accused my brother of beating him with a baton,” Hamilton said. “I asked District Attorney Chisholm did he see any marks on this man. You know what he stated? ‘No.’ Did the family see any marks on this man in the 360-[degree] body picture? No. No marks, no bruises, no anything.”

The DA hasn’t released the result of its investigation or announced if it would issue any charges in the incident.

Kent Lovern, chief deputy district attorney, said in an email that the office is “in the final steps of hiring the national use of force expert to review the matter.” He said it was his understanding that the review process would begin immediately after the expert is hired.

 

Cameras to Watch Cops

The dramatic revelation capped off weeks of protests and demands by the Coalition for Justice for immediate reforms, including the resignation of Flynn, the arrest of and charges filed against Manney, and an independent investigation of Chisholm for prosecutorial misconduct. The coalition wants other changes to MPD policies and procedures, including the immediate suspension without pay of any officer involved in a criminal investigation; an independent review board made up of residents of police districts 3, 4, 5 and 7 that could recommend charges against officers accused of crimes; ending the DA’s involvement in the investigation of police officers; and an independent review and investigation of complaints against officers in districts 3, 4, 5 and 7 over the past five years.

The forum also included a discussion of body cameras on cops. The MPD has been studying and testing them since late 2012, Flynn said, and the city will be bidding them out. The MPD put in a request for $100,000 to cover 50 cameras, he said. He warned against asking for $1.4 million to provide cameras to all 1,200 officers, and said they’d need to ensure that privacy concerns were addressed, saying the topic was “under-discussed.”

In contrast to Flynn’s caution, those who spoke were overwhelmingly supportive of body cameras. Community activist Tracey Dent delivered more than 2,000 signed petitions calling for the MPD to implement them. Supporters view the cameras as a way to prove that they’ve been mistreated by cops, especially in the wake of allegations of numerous illegal strip searches and deaths in custody of Milwaukee’s black men.

“The issue with Dontre Hamilton is a perfect example,” Dent said. “If that officer would have had a camera we would know what happened. Just think about that. One of our men was killed, not just with one or two bullets, but with 14 bullets. That speaks volumes. Especially to the black community, where we are being harassed on a daily basis by Milwaukee police officers.”

The forum concluded with a demand for the FPC to meet with the Hamilton family, since the FPC members didn’t respond to any of the concerns raised on Thursday. After much back and forth about whether the forum’s rules allowed them to vote on scheduling a meeting, the FPC decided to take it up at a future date.

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