Hamilton Investigation Was Flawed, Say Those Who Backed Police Shooting Review Law

Law Requires All Police Shootings To Be Investigated By An External Agency


Some backers of a recently passed state law that requires external investigations of police shootings have said that the investigation into Dontre Hamilton’s shooting was flawed.

Amelia Royko Maurer played a key role in negotiations with police officials that led to the passage of the new law. Her friend was shot and killed by a Madison police officer in 2012. She said that the investigation in the Hamilton case was not in compliance with the law. Milwaukee police officers, she asserted, were allowed to carry out many of the interviews with witnesses that should have been carried out by a more objective agency.

“I am not sure if the law had any impact on this whatsoever. Milwaukee rejected the law, and who knows if and how the attorney general will hold them accountable for not following the law,” said Royko Maurer.

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An email from the Attorney General’s Office said the state Department of Criminal Investigation led the independent probe with assistance from the Milwaukee Police Department in full compliance with the new law.

Michael Bell, one of the key architects of the bill, also said that if a key provision hadn’t been trimmed from the bill before it passed, at least some of the public outcry over the decision in the Hamilton case might have been avoided. He said the original bill included an extra layer of review for all officer-involved shootings.

“Not just law enforcement and the DA reviewing itself. But an independent panel of experts that don’t have an institutional or personal stake in the outcome (reviewing) it to make sure that when that decision is handed back to the DA that everybody reviewed it,” said Bell.

Bell said that he and others who lobbied for the current law plan to push for amendments to make investigations more rigorous and transparent.

Bell’s son was shot and killed by Kenosha Police in 2004.

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