Chisholm Decision Triggers Controversy
DA decides not to charge officer who killed mentally ill man, leaving community divided over issue.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced this morning that he will not charge former officer Christopher Manney for the fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park last April, and released a 25-page report plus various appendixes explaining the reasoning behind his decision.
“This was a tragic incident for the Hamilton family and for the community,” Chisholm wrote. “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.”
The shooting occurred during an incident that began when workers at the nearby Starbucks cafe called police to complain about Hamilton sleeping in the downtown park. As Manney began to pat the man down, Hamilton fought him, and Manney tried to use his baton to subdue Hamilton. Hamilton, however, got control of it and swung the baton at Manney, hitting him on the side of the neck, according to Milwaukee police internal affairs.
Manney then shot Hamilton 14 times. Police Chief Ed Flynn fired Manney in October — not for using excessive force, but because he did not follow department rules in how he handled the situation. That decision was criticized by members of the police union.
The weekly Shepherd Express offered a defense of a kind to Chisholm last week, with a long, cover-story Q and A that basically gave the DA a chance to explain at great length how careful he was being, and how hard it is to successfully prosecute a case of police misconduct. Shepherd owner, publisher and editor Louis Fortis conducted the interview along with reporter Lisa Kaiser.