Milwaukee Police Chief Fires Officer Who Shot Dontre Hamilton

Ed Flynn Identifies Officer As Christopher Manney, Says His Approach To Engaging With Hamilton Was 'Out-Of-Policy'

Protesters gathered at a vigil for Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park this fall. Photo: Overpass Light Brigade (CC-BY-SA).

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn released a statement and subsequently held a press conference on Wednesday, announcing that he has fired an officer who fatally shot a man 14 times in a downtown park in April.

Officer Christopher Manney reportedly encountered 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton on April 30 after responding to a voicemail from a concerned citizen that described Hamilton lying on the ground in Red Arrow Park. Hamilton started a struggle with Manney when the officer began conducting a patdown. Manney then shot Hamilton after the fight escalated.

According to Flynn, the Milwaukee Police Department led an independent investigation into the incident that found that Manney had accurately assessed Hamilton as someone undergoing a mental health crisis. The investigation nevertheless concluded that he “treated Mr. Hamilton as a dangerous criminal instead of following his training and treating Mr. Hamilton as an (emotionally disturbed person).”

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The statement noted that Manney’s approach, including the patdown, was “out-of-policy.”

Family and friends of Hamilton, along with other community activists, have led protest marches through Milwaukee in response to the shooting, but Flynn said he was not pressured to fire the officer.

“If anybody in my reporting chain had expected me to do this or put pressure on me to do this, I would have resigned. This was my decision, and my decision alone,” said Flynn.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is still having others review a probe by the state Justice Department that was completed as part of a new state law requiring an outside agency to review all officer-involved shootings.

Hamilton’s family is glad Manney has been fired, but Dontre Hamilton’s brother Nathaniel still wants Chisholm to file criminal charges against the former officer.

“If I break someone’s rights and it ends up killing them, I’m going to jail. The police department should have the same accountability,” he said.

Chisholm’s decision is not expected this week. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee police officers’ union has spoken out against Flynn’s decision to fire Manney.

Editor’s Note: This story is being updated as Wisconsin Public Radio learns more information.