As previously reported here, Milwaukee Police Department (“MPD”) Officer Christopher Manney shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, 2014. Dontre was lawfully relaxing and possibly sleeping in the Park when he was approached by Officer Manney. Without any reasonable suspicion that Dontre was involved in criminal activity, Officer Manney detained Dontre and then began a pat-down search of Dontre’s person. An altercation ensued, where Officer Manney eventually shot and killed Dontre.
For the Hamilton family, justice for Dontre and accountability for Officer Manney have been hard to come by. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office declined to press state criminal charges against Officer Manney. Likewise, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin refused to bring federal criminal charges. The MPD did fire Officer Manney; however, just two days before the firing Officer Manney applied for duty disability pay, claiming that he suffers from mental illness as a result of shooting and killing Dontre. The City of Milwaukee Annuity and Pension Board approved Officer Manney’s claim, meaning that he will receive 75% of his MPD salary, tax free, for as long as he is determined to be disabled. In addition, Officer Manney has appealed his firing, and that appeal is still pending, meaning that Officer Manney could get his job back.
Seeking justice and accountability for the tragic death of Dontre Hamilton, theMilwaukee civil rights lawyers of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C., as part of the legal team which represents the Hamilton family, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Officer Manney and the City of Milwaukee. The Federal Complaint, which begins the lawsuit, lays out in detail the facts relating to Officer Manney’s unconstitutional shooting and killing of Dontre. We believe that this civil rights lawsuit will provide a full account of what led Officer Manney to confront, unlawfully detain, illegally search, and then subsequently shoot Dontre 14 times, resulting in his death.
The Federal Complaint also explains how the City of Milwaukee’s unconstitutional customs, policies and practices contributed to Dontre Hamilton’s death. These include the City’s failure to conduct psychological testing of police officers, including Officer Manney; their failure to discipline police officers for misconduct; the “code of silence” within the MPD; the widespread pattern of police officers conducting unconstitutional searches and using excessive force; and the City’s failure to provide promised and necessary Crisis Intervention Team training to MPD officers so they can properly interact with persons suffering from psychological conditions. The Federal Complaint also describes how the MPD failed to properly follow the Wisconsin law which required an outside agency to investigate Officer Manney’s actions.
In bringing this lawsuit, we will work for justice for Dontre Hamilton and his family. Please continue to follow our Blog for updates on the case.