- Associated Press - Sunday, October 19, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A report says a Milwaukee police officer who killed a mentally ill man in a downtown park likely is the first Milwaukee officer fired as a result of a fatal on-duty shooting in at least 45 years.

Even the two officers who’ve been criminally charged in fatal shootings since 1968 were not fired from the department, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1sZtaPl ).

Officer Christopher Manney killed Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park on April 30. Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney last month. He said Manney didn’t use excessive force in shooting Hamilton 14 times. Instead, Flynn said, Manney was fired because didn’t follow department rules in the moments before the shooting, resulting in a struggle that left deadly force as the only option.

Both Manney and Milwaukee police union President Mike Crivello said it was “unprecedented” to fire an officer for that reason.

The incident began when workers at a nearby coffee shop called police to complain about Hamilton sleeping in the park. Instead of following his training about how to deal with emotionally disturbed people, Flynn said, Manney came up behind Hamilton, placing his hands under Hamilton’s arms and on his chest in what the chief described as an “out of policy pat-down.” He said the officer had no reason to before the confrontation that Hamilton was dangerous.

Flynn’s decision came amid heightened scrutiny of officer-involved shootings nationwide, sparked by protests in Ferguson, Missouri. In Wisconsin, Hamilton’s death is the first to be investigated under a new law that requires an outside agency to lead the criminal review of any officer-involved death.

District Attorney Jon Chisholm has not decided whether to charge Manney. He has said he was seeking opinions from outside experts on the use of force before reaching a decision.

“The D.A. is likely most strongly looking at self-defense,” said Daniel Blinka, a Marquette University law professor and former Milwaukee County assistant district attorney. He said that’s because, at the time the fatal shots were fired, Hamilton had grabbed Manney’s baton and hit him in the neck with it.

Blinka, who stressed he had not had any contact with prosecutors about the case, said police officers are held to the same self-defense standard as anyone else. He said the key is whether an individual had a reasonable belief that his or her life was in immediate danger and that deadly force was necessary.

Manney has applied for duty disability, saying the shooting and its aftermath resulted in severe post-traumatic stress disorder. If approved, his retirement - which would include about 75 percent of his salary, tax-free - would take precedence over his dismissal because he applied two days before he was fired.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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