The Slatest

Justice Department Will Review Milwaukee Case of White Cop Killing Unarmed Black Man

Two Milwaukee police officers.

Photo by Tom Lynn/Getty Images

The Justice Department announced it will launch a civil rights probe into the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Milwaukee. The decision to review the death of Dontre Hamilton came after county prosecutors said they would not charge officer Christopher Manney for shooting Hamilton 14 times at a downtown park in April.

“This was a tragic incident for the Hamilton family and for the community,” the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s report read. “But, based on all the evidence and analysis presented in this report, I come to the conclusion that Officer Manney’s use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime.”

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Here’s more on the altercation on April 30 that lead to Hamilton’s death from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

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Manney shot Hamilton 14 times on April 30 during a confrontation at Red Arrow Park. Before the encounter, a pair of officers responding to a call that Hamilton was asleep in the park checked on him twice and found he was doing nothing wrong… As Manney began to pat down Hamilton, Hamilton fought him, and a confrontation ensued. Manney tried to use his baton to subdue Hamilton, but Hamilton got control of it and swung at Manney, hitting him on the side of the neck, according to Milwaukee police internal affairs… Manney said he attempted to push Hamilton away to create distance. Manney said he thought Hamilton was growing stronger, reaching the point of “super human strength.”

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When Manney finally got his firearm, he said, he walked backward. Hamilton continued to advance… Manney continued to fire until Hamilton fell to the pavement; he recalled it was as if he was “shooting a BB gun…” In days after the shooting, police officials highlighted Hamilton’s history of mental illness and said the mental health system failed him. Hamilton’s family has said he received treatment for schizophrenia but was not violent.

Milwaukee’s police chief fired Manney in October over the incident, although as the Journal Sentinel points out, the dismisal was “not for using excessive force, but because he did not follow department rules in the moments leading up to the shooting.”

*This post has been updated.

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