Milwaukee, WI-- Protests have intensified in Milwaukee as the community anxiously awaits the district attorney's decision on whether or not to indict a former officer who shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times, including once in the back, on April 30. The national guard was put on alert on Saturday, the day after a large demonstration blocked I-43 and concluded with more than 70 arrests.
Hamilton was a 32 year old man suffering from schizophrenia who was sleeping at a park when employees at the Starbucks nearby decided to call the police to come harass him. Two officers went and checked on Hamilton twice, and found him to be doing nothing wrong.
Unfortunately Officer Christopher Manney didn't get the memo that the man had been checked on. He showed up at the scene and began to pat the man down. This is when a struggle ensued and Manney began to beat Hamilton with his asp. At some point Hamilton gained control of the asp and Manney fired 14 rounds into the mentally unstable man. When the autopsy was finally released in November, the public would learn that one of the shots had entered through the man's back. The officer claims to have been hit with the asp, a claim which a witness has eloquently and adamantly contended.
“The wounds show that at least half of them were in a downward direction even though they were both supposedly standing. There’s one shot that reflects it was shot into Dontre Hamilton’s back,” the family's attorney Johnathon Safran told Fox6.
Hamilton also suffered blunt force injuries to his chin, scalp and neck and had bruises on his upper arm. No drugs were found in his system.
For months the department would refuse to name the officer involved, so on September 18, the Coalition For Justice, a group formed by Dontre’s brother, Nathaniel Hamilton, decided to take matters into their own hands.
Nathaniel Hamilton spoke at the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission meeting on September 18, and announced Manney's name as his mic was cut.
“The MPD Officer who shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times and took his life from him was named Christopher Manney. This man had a history of violence and excessive use of force and the City has a history of excusing it, as proven by a write up from 2007. City officials and the media refuse to release his name, so we will!” read a Facebook post by the coalition the following day.
In October, Manney was fired, after several months on paid leave. He was not fired for killing Hamilton, but was instead fired for "violating department policy on approaching mentally unstable citizens". That's right. He was fired for actions that left a man dead, but not for actually leaving a human being dead.
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The protests this month have included tactics ranging from protestors taking over city hall to demand a meeting with the mayor to shutting down a major highway during rush hour.
After the highway shutdown, and 73 adults and one juvenile were arrested, over a hundred supporters gathered outside the police station demanding the arrested be released.
"We're still peaceful," Nathaniel Hamilton told The Journal Sentinel. "Nothing is burning. Nothing is torn down. No one's hurt. I don't want them to think being disruptive is being violent."
Now here we are, right before Christmas, and the district attorney has stated that they will announce their decision any day.
A huge response is expected if the decision comes down on Monday. There are also plans for a large response on Tuesday if there is no decision or charges.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. made a request to have the national guard on standby for the protests, a request which was approved by Gov. Scott Walker.
"We are currently making preparations to stage National Guard members and will be ready to respond rapidly if needed," Maj. Paul Rickert, the Guard's director of communications stated, "We don't have a mission yet but should we be needed, we will be able to send those forces."
A livestream of the protests will be available here.
You can donate to the bail fund for protesters here.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office released a report on Monday morning, December 22nd that indicates former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney‘s “use of force” in the shooting death of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton was “justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime.”