Tag Archives: police shooting

Walker statement after police shooting in Milwaukee

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, on Aug. 14, issued the following statement after a police shooting in Milwaukee ignited protest:

Following a request from Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, and after discussions with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Adjutant General Donald Dunbar, I have activated the Wisconsin National Guard to be in a position to aid local law enforcement upon request.

I commend the citizens who volunteered in clean-up efforts this morning. This act of selfless caring sets a powerful example for Milwaukee’s youth and the entire community. I join Milwaukee’s leaders and citizens in calling for continued peace and prayer.

It is also important for citizens to know that Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to have a law requiring an independent investigation anytime there is a shooting by a law enforcement officer that leads to a death. I will not comment on the specifics of the case as it is now under this investigation. I do, however, hope people will give law enforcement the respect that they deserve for working so hard to keep us safe.

National Guard on standby in Milwaukee following riots in Sherman Park

The National Guard  has been put on standby to assist the Milwaukee Police Department — if needed — after protests last night turned violent in the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood, said Mayor Tom Barrett during a news conference this afternoon.

Barrett said Gov. Scott Walker decided to call for federal assistance after consulting with him by telephone; but the decision on whether to deploy the National Guard would be made by MPD Chief Edward Flynn, who is monitoring the situation.

Barrett said he’d never seen anything in Milwaukee like the melee that broke out yesterday near North 35th Street and West Burleigh, where several businesses — including a BMO Harris Bank branch, a beauty supply company and O’Reilly Auto Parts stores — were set on fire.

“Last night was unlike anything I have ever seen in my adult life in this city. I hope I never see it again,” said the mayor, who was visibly shaken.

The riotous situation was sparked by the fatal police shooting of a man yesterday. He was running from police after his car was stopped due to what MPD called “suspicious” behavior.

As many as 800 protesters clashed with police officers for several hours last night before police were able to bring the situation under control. Four officers were injured during the standoff with the crowd, and some media outlets reported that shots were fired by protesters at the police. Barrett and other officials said the riot was fueled by calls for action on social media.

Milwaukee has avoided eruptions of violence following police shootings of unarmed black men in the city and elsewhere over the past two years. City officials expressed disappointment about yesterday’s tragic events.

According to some officials, recent years have seen progress in the predominantly black Sherman Park area. Several dozen volunteers associated with the Coalition for Justice assisted the city this morning with cleaning up the rubble left from last night’s riots, according to The Associated Press

At this afternoon’s news conference, Flynn identified the man killed as 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith, who has a “lengthy arrest record,” according to police. Barrett said that a still image pulled from a video of the shooting recorded by body camera shows “without question” that Smith had a gun in his hand when he was shot. Barrett said the video is part of a vigorous state investigation of the shooting.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel promised today that the state’s Department of Justice would quickly to come to a conclusion about whether there’s any criminal culpability in Smith’s death. Unlike similar high-profile shootings, in this case both Smith and the officer who shot him are African American.

Police said the semi-automatic gun that Smith was carrying was stolen in Waukesha.

It remains unclear whether Smith was threatening police or just seeking to elude them at the time he was shot. Barrett said a thorough examination of the footage taken from the officer’s body camera is underway to assess exactly how the killing unfolded.

Both the victim and the officer who shot him are black.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore was among the leaders who’ve called for peace tonight on Milwaukee’s streets.

“As details continue to emerge about this shooting, I ask our community to remain calm and recommit to doing everything in our collective power to live up to our nation’s promise of ‘justice for all.’ Together, Milwaukee will weather this storm,” Moore said in a press statement.

“I share the frustration of my constituents who feel they live in a city where justice is only afforded to some and not all. I also share the frustration of our local police officers who are desperately trying to uphold public safety in what they perceive as a caustic climate. We must find a way to strike a balance where we can peacefully point out the racial inequities in our society while recognizing the valuable role police play in our community.

Moore and others called on leaders to address the social issues beneath incidents such as Saturday’s.

“We simply cannot close our eyes to the hostile environment cultivated by the flagrant racial inequality and segregation that has plagued Milwaukee for generations,” Moore said.

Many people — public officials, religious leaders and ordinary citizens — weighed in about yesterday’s shooting on social media.

Milwaukee Ald. Khalif Rainey posted a statement last night that was shared by many on Facebook today.

“The city has watched this particular neighborhood (Sherman Park), throughout the entire summer, be a powder keg. From incidents in the park, to shootings, this entire community has witnessed how Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African Americans in the entire country. Now this is the warning cry,” Rainey wrote.

“Where do we go as a community from here? Do we continue with the inequity, the injustice, the unemployment, the under-education that creates these byproducts that we see this evening? Do we continue that?

“Something has to be done here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to address these issues. The black people of Milwaukee are tired of living under oppression. This is their existence. This is their life, and the lives of their children.

What happened tonight was not right, I am not justifying that. But no one can deny the fact that there are racial problems here that have to be rectified.”

Man says North Miami police shot him while he was lying down

Authorities say a North Miami police officer shot and wounded an autistic man’s caretaker following reports of a man threatening to shoot himself.

North Miami Assistant Police Chief Neal Cuevas told The Miami Herald that officers responded to the scene on Monday to find 47-year-old Charles Kinsey, a therapist who works with people with disabilities, trying to get his 27-year-old patient back to a facility from where he wandered.

Cuevas says police ordered Kinsey and the patient, who was sitting in the street playing with a toy truck, to lie on the ground.

Kinsey did get down and put his hands up while trying to get his patient to comply.

An officer then fired three times, striking Kinsey in the leg, Cuevas said. No weapon was found.

Kinsey’s attorney, Hilton Napoleon, provided a cellphone video to the Herald on Wednesday taken moments before the shooting. It shows Kinsey lying in the middle of the street with his hands up, asking the officers not to shoot him, while the autistic man sits next to him, yelling at him to “shut up.”

“Sir, there’s no need for firearms,” Kinsey said he told police before he was shot, according to the station. “It was so surprising. It was like a mosquito bite.”

Kinsey is black. Police haven’t released the name or race of the officer who shot him.

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, issued a statement on Thursday regarding the shooting of Charles Kinsey.

Simon said, “Thankfully, Mr. Kinsey is alive and not more gravely injured — but had the officer’s weapon been pointed just a few degrees differently, this senseless incident could have been a much greater tragedy.

“This is the latest in what seems like an endless litany of police shootings of individuals who should not have been shot. Philando Castile in Minnesota, Alton Sterling in Louisiana, Vernell Bing in Jacksonville: there are too many to name them all here. Of the 598 people killed by U.S. police this year, 88 were unarmed. Mr. Kinsey or his patient could very easily have become number 89.

“We have to stem the tide of violence, both nationwide and here in Florida. It starts with holding people accountable for their actions. There must be a thorough and independent investigation into this shooting that covers both whether officers violated internal use of deadly force policies and whether criminal charges should be brought.

“Additionally, the North Miami Police, and all local law enforcement agencies, must examine their policies when it comes to use of force and how best to respond to members of the public who have mental health issues. Great strides have been made in recent years in developing policies that help police de-escalate potentially volatile situations and bring them to an end without violence. None of them seem to have been utilized in this situation by the North Miami Police.”

“We are grateful that both Mr. Kinsey and his patient are alive, but without changes in policy and improved training of officers, we will very likely see more needless shootings and deaths at the hands of police.”

Attorney Jeff Hearne, president of the Greater Miami Chapter of the ACLU of Florida, also issued a statement.

He said, “In his press conference today, North Miami Police Chief Gary Eugene declared a commitment to transparency in this process. Transparency in this case must mean providing the public with any information about what led to the pointless shooting of an unarmed Black man lying on his back with his hands up, and why the public is only hearing about it days after it happened.

“We are calling on the North Miami Police to release any police camera footage related to the incident. Additionally, the ACLU of Florida will be submitting a public records request to review the North Miami Police’s policy on use of force and use of deadly force and determine whether it adequately protects both law enforcement and the public.

“The community deserves answers about how this happened and what will be done to keep it from happening again.”

Killing of Alton Sterling exposes limits of body cameras

Civil liberties advocates said they expected the failure of body cameras worn by two Baton Rouge police officers when they shot dead a black man to be part of a federal investigation into the latest U.S. shooting to spark protests over the use of excessive force by police.

The cameras, intended as a major deterrent to police shootings because of the documentation they could provide, were knocked out of position during the altercation with 37-year-old Alton Sterling resulting in poor-quality video, police revealed on Wednesday.

Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. on July 5, 2016, is seen in an undated photo posted on his Facebook account. Alton Sterling via Social Media/Handout via Reuters
Alton Sterling, who was shot dead by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. on July 5, 2016, is seen in an undated photo posted on his Facebook account. Alton Sterling via Social Media/Handout via Reuters

Police officials did not say which company made the cameras worn by the officers who killed Sterling, where they were located on their uniforms or how they were knocked loose, but civil rights advocates said they expected a U.S. Department of Justice investigation to answer those questions.

“How could that possibly happen?” asked Marjorie Esman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana in a telephone interview on Wednesday, a day after the shooting. “I assume the Justice Department is going to look at absolutely everything, which would have to include what happened with the cameras.”

Baton Rouge is transitioning from using cameras made by L-3 Communications Holdings Inc <LLL.N> to those made by Taser International Inc <TASR.O>, according to Taser and local media reports. A Taser spokesman said his company’s cameras were not involved in the incident and an L-3 spokesman declined to comment.

Baton Rouge police officials did not respond to a request for further comment.

Law enforcement experts said it was rare for such cameras to fail but not unheard of in a case where an officer is wrestling with someone.

Taser’s body-worn cameras are secured with high-powered magnets and require the user to hold a power button down for five seconds to turn them off, a design intended to discourage officers from turning them off during confrontations.

Over the past year police departments in major U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore have begun equipping their officers with body cameras or seeking funding for them.

Some 95 percent of police departments intend to adopt them, according to a December survey conducted jointly by the Major Cities Chiefs Association and Major County Sheriffs Association.

“Body cameras are a step forward in most people’s minds, but they are not the silver bullet that people believe they might be,” said Darrel Stephens, executive director of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. “I can see that people might be skeptical of that but those things happen.”

Abdullah Muflahi, owner of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., is pictured in his store July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Kathy Finn
Abdullah Muflahi, owner of the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S., is pictured in his store July 6, 2016. REUTERS/Kathy Finn

Police seized spent ammo, journals from prom shooter’s home

Police seized spent ammo, a gun sling and journals from the home of the 18-year-old who opened fire on students at a prom at his former school in northern Wisconsin before being fatally shot by an officer, court records show.

According to a search warrant and supporting affidavit, Antigo Police Patrolman Andy Hopfensperger shot Jakob Wagner multiple times to stop the attack. Wagner was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead early Sunday.

Hopfensperger and another officer were checking cars in the school parking lot when Wagner opened fire and wounded two people as they left the dance, according to a statement from Antigo Police Capt. Nate Musolff. Hopfensperger fired “as the shooter was actively engaging the kids with the rifle.”

One 18-year-old male student was struck in the leg and a bullet grazed his date’s thigh. Both are recovering.

Authorities haven’t previously identified the officer who shot Wagner, but they have said his actions “saved a lot of lives” by preventing him from ending up inside the dance. They also haven’t revealed a motive in the case, but people who knew Wagner have said he was bullied.

Wagner’s mother, Lorrie Wagner, told The Associated Press on Monday that her son “wasn’t a monster” and that she hopes the tragedy “shines light on bullying and how deeply it affects people.” His family released a statement Tuesday that said his loved ones are “filled with sorrow over the injuries caused to his victims, the position in which the police officers were placed along with the prom goers and their families.”

The statement released by an Antigo funeral home said Wagner’s family realizes “his actions have torn open a wound in our community. We pray for healing.”

According to the documents filed Monday in Langlade County Circuit Court, officers seized several types of spent rounds along with the strap and various journal entries, notes and drawings. They also took electronics, including an iPod, a cellphone and video game systems. Additionally, the records show the seizure of “Notecards Devil In Nature” and “Teen Suicide Reading Materials.”

Hopfensperger is on paid administrative leave, which is routine for officers involved in shootings.

Cleveland settles lawsuit over police killing of child

The city has reached a $6 million settlement in a lawsuit over the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old black boy shot by a white police officer while playing with a pellet gun outside a recreation center.

An order filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland on Monday says the city will pay out $3 million this year and $3 million the next.

The wrongful death suit filed by his family and estate against the city and officers and dispatchers who were involved alleged police acted recklessly when they confronted the boy on Nov. 22, 2014.

Video of the encounter shows a cruiser skidding to a stop and rookie patrolman Timothy Loehmann firing within two seconds of opening the car door. Tamir wasn’t given first aid until about four minutes later, when an FBI agent trained as a paramedic arrived. The boy died the next day.

A grand jury declined to bring charges against the officers and a federal civil rights investigation is pending.

The shooting raised questions about how police treat blacks, spurred protests around Cleveland and helped spark the creation of a state police standards board to lay out rules about use of deadly force in law enforcement.

Tamir’s mother, Samaria Rice, had alleged that police failed to immediately provide first aid for her son and caused intentional infliction of emotional distress in how they treated her and her daughter after the shooting.

The officers had asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Loehmann’s attorney has said he bears a heavy burden and must live with what happened.

Tamir lived across the street from the recreation center where he played nearly every day.

The officers had responded to a 911 call in which a man drinking a beer and waiting for a bus outside Cudell Recreation Center reported that a man was waving a gun and pointing it at people. The man told the call taker that the person holding the gun was likely a juvenile and the weapon probably wasn’t real, but the call taker never passed that information to the dispatcher who gave Loehmann and Garmback the high-priority call.

Tamir was carrying a plastic airsoft gun that shoots nonlethal plastic pellets. He’d borrowed it that morning from a friend who warned him to be careful because the gun looked real. It was missing its telltale orange tip.

The settlement comes two years after the city settled another lawsuit connected to the killings of two unarmed black people in a 137-shot barrage of police gunfire at the end of a 2012 car chase. Cleveland settled a lawsuit brought by the victims’ families for a total of $3 million.

 

 

Recall of Chicago mayor up for consideration

The furor over recent Chicago police shootings has legislators considering whether voters should be allowed to recall Mayor Rahm Emanuel or future officials who hold his post.

Illinois state law currently addresses only the recall of a governor, a provision voters approved in 2010 after former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested and impeached. Now, state Rep. La Shawn Ford, a Chicago Democrat, wants voters to also have the power to remove the mayor of the country’s third-largest city.

In light of the unrest in the city, Ford said, “It’s clearly the right thing to have on the books.”

But what about mayors in other Illinois cities? What about state lawmakers? How does Illinois compare to other states when it comes to recalls? Here’s a closer look at those questions and the particulars of Ford’s measure.

FORD’S RECALL PROPOSAL

Ford introduced his bill on Dec. 9, the day Emanuel addressed the Chicago City Council and apologized for the death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white police officer in October 2014. Emanuel’s apology came a couple of weeks after the release of police dashcam video that appeared to show McDonald walking away from officers when he was shot. The video triggered protests and calls for Emanuel’s resignation.

Emanuel has said he won’t step down.

“We understand there’s a desire by some to insert politics into this discussion, but the mayor’s focus is not on his own personal politics,” Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins said in a statement. “His focus is on taking the action necessary to finally and fully address an issue that has challenged Chicago for decades, and reform the system and culture of policing in Chicago.”

Under Ford’s proposal, two city aldermen would have to sign an affidavit agreeing with a recall petition and organizers must collect more than 88,000 signatures from registered voters in the city. At least 50 signatures must come from each of 50 wards.

The proposal would pre-empt local law, so it needs approval from two-thirds of each chamber of the Illinois Legislature to pass during the session that starts this month. The bill would be effective immediately if signed into law, a scenario that can pose legal questions because it would target someone currently in office, said David Melton, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

WHAT ABOUT OTHER OFFICEHOLDERS?

Ford said in the coming weeks he’ll be holding town hall meetings in his district to get constituents’ thoughts about the bill and whether it should be expanded to include recall provisions for other officeholders, including other mayors. He said he’s willing to consider also including lawmakers but said he didn’t do so initially because legislators don’t wield the same authority as statewide officeholders or the Chicago mayor.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow recalls of state and local officials, according to Joshua Spivak, a recall expert at the Hugh L. Carey Institute for Government Reform at Wagner College in New York City.

Illinois is included in that count but is unique in that its constitution has guidelines for the recall of only the governor.

“There’s no jurisdiction I know of that have just one guy (open to recall),” Spivak said.

HOW COMMON ARE RECALLS?

Despite the recall limits in Illinois law, municipalities can adopt their own ordinances. Still, it’s a power that’s been rarely used. Recall efforts are expensive and time-consuming endeavors.

The last time one happened in Illinois was 2010 in Buffalo Grove, a suburb of Chicago. That’s where voters recalled village trustee Lisa Stone.

Jennifer Maltas, Buffalo Grove’s deputy village manager, said it’s believed to be the only recall ever held in the state, and Spivak couldn’t find any other cases.

Across the country in 2015, there were at least 434 attempts to recall local and state officeholders, according to Spivak’s research. Of those, only 93 made it to a recall vote.

Only two U.S. governors have ever been recalled – North Carolina’s Lynn Frazier in 1921, and California’s Gray Davis in 2003.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall election in 2012, becoming the first governor in U.S. history to do so. The recall came after Walker stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

White Chicago officer charged with murder in killing of black teenager

A white Chicago police officer who shot a black teenager 16 times was charged with murder on Nov. 24, just a day before the deadline a judge set for the city to release a squad-car video of the killing that officials fear will spark unrest.

The state’s attorney’s office said in a statement that Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in the Oct. 20, 2014, killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

City officials and community leaders have been bracing for the release of the video, fearing an outbreak of unrest and demonstrations similar to those that occurred in cities including Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, after young black men were slain by police or died in police custody. The judge ordered the dash-cam recording to be released by Wednesday after city officials had argued for months it couldn’t be made public until the conclusion of several investigations.

The Cook County state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, defended the amount of time it took to charge Van Dyke at a news conference. Alvarez said cases involving police officers present “highly complex” legal issues and she would rather take the time to get it right than “rush to judgment.”

She said the impending release of the video prompted her to move up the announcement of the charge out of concern the footage would spark violence.

“I have absolutely no doubt that this video will tear at the hearts of Chicagoans,” Alvarez said.

However, she insisted that she made a decision “weeks ago” to charge the officer and the video’s ordered release did not influence that.

Some community leaders said there was no doubt that Alvarez only brought charges because of the order to release the video.

“This is a panicky reaction to an institutional crisis within the criminal justice system,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who said he hoped to see “massive” but peaceful demonstrations.

The city’s hurried attempts to defuse tensions also included a community meeting, official statements of outrage at the officer’s conduct and an abrupt announcement Monday night that another officer who’s been the subject of protests for months might now be fired.

Activists and journalists have long pressed for the video’s release only to be told that it had to be kept private as long as the shooting was under investigation. After the judge’s order to release it, the investigation was quickly wrapped up and a charge announced.

“You had this tape for a year and you are only talking to us now because you need our help keeping things calm,” the Rev. Corey Brooks said of Monday night’s community gathering with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Several people who have seen the video say it shows the teenager armed with a small knife and walking away from several officers. They say Van Dyke opened fire from about 15 feet and kept shooting after the teen fell to the ground. An autopsy report says McDonald was shot at least twice in his back. It also said PCP, a hallucinogenic drug, was found in the teen’s system.

Police were responding to complaints about someone breaking into cars and stealing radios.

Van Dyke was the only officer on the scene to open fire. He emptied his 9 mm pistol, shooting all 16 rounds from just feet away, Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Delaney said at Tuesday’s hearing.

He said the shooting lasted 14 to 15 seconds and that McDonald was on the ground for 13 of those seconds.

Witnesses said McDonald was moving away from the officer and never threatened him, Delaney said. Police say the teen had a knife, and Delaney said a 3-inch knife was recovered from the scene.

Van Dyke’s attorney, Dan Herbert, maintains his client feared for his life and acted lawfully and that the video about to be released doesn’t tell the whole story.

Herbert said the case needs to be tried in a courtroom and “can’t be tried in the streets, can’t be tried on social media and can’t be tried on Facebook.”

Chicago police also moved late Monday to discipline a second officer who had shot and killed an unarmed black woman in 2012 in another incident causing tensions between the department and minority communities. Superintendent Garry McCarthy recommended firing Officer Dante Servin for the shooting of 22-year-old Rekia Boyd, saying Servin showed “incredibly poor judgment.” A judge acquitted Servin of involuntary manslaughter and other charges last April, and Alvarez was accused of having not prosecuted the case properly.

Jackson said a special prosecutor should oversee the Van Dyke case instead of Alvarez’s office.

None of the city’s outreach will be able to stop protests once the video is released, said Jedidiah Brown, another of the pastors who attended the meeting with Emanuel. Emotions are running too high, he added.

The fears of unrest stem from long-standing tensions between the Chicago police and minority communities, partly due to the department’s dogged reputation for brutality, particularly involving blacks. Dozens of men, mostly African American, said they were subjected to torture at the hands of a Chicago police squad headed by former commander Jon Burge during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, and many spent years in prison. Burge was eventually convicted of lying about the torture and served 4½ years in prison.

Ministers who met with Emanuel said blacks in the city are upset because Van Dyke, though stripped of his police powers, has been assigned to desk duty and not fired.

The Police Department said placing an officer on desk duty after a shooting is standard procedure and that it is prohibited from doing anything more during the investigations. 

No federal charges in the killing of Dontre Hamilton

The Justice Department announced on Nov. 10 that there is insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney for the death of Dontre Hamilton on April 30, 2014.

Officials from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the FBI met on Nov. 10 with Hamilton’s family and their representatives to inform them of this decision.

In a statement to the press, the Justice Department said federal authorities conducted a “comprehensive and independent review of the evidence” collected related to the death of Hamilton, who was shot during a struggle with Manney. This included reviewing all information from the state investigation, reviewing all recorded interviews, consulting with the Milwaukee County medical examiner and reviewing the transcripts from Manney’s termination hearing by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission.

The team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents considered whether Manney violated federal law by willfully using unreasonable force against Hamilton.

The Justice Department said under federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. To establish willfulness, federal authorities must show that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. “Mistake, misperception, negligence or poor judgment are not sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation,” according to DOJ. 

In the Milwaukee case, there were civilian witnesses who saw some part of the physical confrontation between Manney and Hamilton. Based on those eyewitness accounts, the account of the former officer involved, the physical evidence and the assessments of independent use of force experts, the federal team determined “the evidence was insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Manney acted willfully with a bad purpose to violate the law.”

Accordingly, the federal review of the killing of Dontre Hamilton has been closed without prosecution.

Justice’s statement said, “This decision is limited strictly to an application of the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statute; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the incident that led to Hamilton’s death.”

Responding on Nov. 10, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee, said, “As a mother to two young black men, I am especially saddened by the Department of Justice’s decision not to bring criminal civil rights charges against Officer Christopher Manney. More than 18 months have passed since Officer Manney fatally shot Dontre Hamilton — an unarmed black man struggling with mental illness — and many unanswered questions still remain. Although this decision is certainly a setback, it is by no means the end of our collective efforts to pursue justice for the Hamilton family. I continue to hold them in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time, as I know the wounds from such a devastating loss will take time to heal.”

Moore also said, “With violence in Milwaukee on the rise, we must strive to mend the relationship between the police and the people they serve, especially for those with disabilities and in communities of color.”

Baldwin, Moore urge Justice Department action in review of Dontre Hamilton’s death

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin are calling on the Justice Department to expedite its review of the killing of Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the Democratic lawmakers from Wisconsin wrote:

We write to express our concern about the slow pace of the federal review of potential civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, and federal “pattern and practice” review of the Milwaukee Police Department. We respectfully encourage the Department of Justice to expedite these reviews and to provide the Hamilton family with an update on the status of its efforts around Dontre’s death.   

It has been more than fourteen months since that tragedy occurred. It has been more than six months since Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm declined to file charges against Office Christopher Manney in relation to the shooting and U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle announced a federal review of the case. However, according to the Hamilton family, they have not received any updates as to the status of this review.     

Furthermore, U.S. Attorney Santelle began to solicit information from members of the Milwaukee community as early as October 2012 in support of a potential “pattern and practice” investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department. This announcement came after the July 2011 in-custody death of Derek Williams, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. While we understand that the Justice Department continues to solicit community complaints about the conduct of the Milwaukee Police Department, we share the concern and frustration of the Milwaukee community with the pace of this review.   

We continue to hear from Milwaukee constituents who are fearful and distrustful of law enforcement, particularly after the deaths of Derek Williams and Dontre Hamilton. We believe tangible progress on these federal investigations will help to restore trust between the Milwaukee Police Department and the broader community and can lead to the implementation of policies and practices that will better protect our officers and better serve the people of Milwaukee.  

Law enforcement personnel have extremely difficult jobs and they put their lives on the line every day to help keep our communities safe. In Milwaukee, there has been an alarming increase in violence in recent months and, now more than ever, we must ensure that there is trust between police and the people they serve to help reduce crime and strengthen this community.  

Thank you again for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you going forward.