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U.S. Justice Department Will Not File Criminal Charges Against Officer Who Killed Dontre Hamilton

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LaToya Dennis
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Nate Hamilton addresses media hours after finding out the U.S. Justice Department will not file criminal charges against former MPD officer Christopher Manney

The federal government will not seek charges against former Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney. He shot Dontre Hamilton to death in Red Arrow Park, in 2014. Manney lost his job, not for the killing, but for patting down Hamilton, which led to the altercation. Hamilton was an unarmed, mentally ill black man who had been resting in the downtown park. Members of his family says they are disgusted with the U.S. Justice Department and city leadership.

At a press conference outside the federal courthouse in downtown Milwaukee, Nate Hamilton, Dontre’s brother, urged people to keep loved ones close.

“Hold your children, hide your children because this nation of law enforcement does not care about your brown and black children. They will gun down your children, they will cover up that is was murder. What we have seen is a complete display of an intentional homicide, an intentional murder to a black and brown population,” Hamilton says.

Hamilton is unhappy with the U.S. Justice Department for not pursuing federal charges against the former officer who killed Dontre, and also because of the amount of time it took the agency to announce its decision. The incident occurred on April 30, 2014. Hamilton says he and his family plan to continue the fight with everything they have left in them. That fight includes filing a civil rights lawsuit. Hamilton is calling on community members to take a stand regarding police practices, and warns that if city leaders don't act, demonstrators will, quote, tear down the city.

For his part, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn says he understands the anger and grief the Hamilton family feels, but says not everyone is speaking out against the police for the right reasons.

“You got a lot of folks that will never be happy with anything this police department does or any police department does. And it’s clear from their behavior and their rhetoric there are opportunists that are taking this families grief to make political points in a broader context,” Flynn says.  

To help ease community tensions, Flynn has asked the Justice Department to conduct what’s called a Collaborative Reform Initiative. If accepted, the federal agency would review recent reforms and practices the MPD has enacted, and come up with a plan to improve operations.