- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The mother of a man killed by a Milwaukee police officer hopes to get the attention of the Department of Justice by organizing in the nation’s capital a march of moms who have lost children during police encounters.

Maria Hamilton said Monday she is organizing a “Million Moms March” on Mother’s Day in Washington, D.C, in memory of her 31-year-old son Dontre Hamilton who was killed by a police officer last April in Milwaukee and other sons who have died in similar situations.

“I would love to have a million moms with pictures of their sons,” Maria Hamilton said Monday.

She said her goal is to have the Department of Justice reopen police shooting cases around the country and investigate the officers involved without “bias.”

Officer Christopher Manney, who is white, shot Hamilton on April 30 after responding to a call of a man sleeping in the park. According to Manney’s account, Hamilton, who is black, grabbed the officer’s baton and attacked him with it, forcing him to open fire. He shot Hamilton 14 times.

Hamilton’s family has said he suffered from schizophrenia but was not violent. Chief Edward Flynn later fired Manney for failing to follow department rules when the officer encountered Hamilton. Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney because he said the officer improperly started a pat-down of Hamilton when it wasn’t called for. Hamilton’s family has said he was schizophrenic. After hearing testimony earlier this month, A panel of police commissioners agreed with Flynn’s decision to fire Manney.

Last fall, after meeting other local mothers who had lost sons in police encounters, Maria Hamilton decided to create support a group for those and other mothers called Mothers for Justice United. The group is organizing the march for the moms, family members and other supporters. Maria Hamilton said among those going to Washington are the mother of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was fatally shot by a Madison police officer March 6.

While there, Maria Hamilton said she hopes to meet with Wisconsin Congresswoman Gwen Moore and ask her to take her to the Department of Justice to talk about her goals. Those include getting a special prosecutor to investigate all police-related deaths and having the federal government determine which outside agency will investigate these cases. She also wants a unit created within the federal government to monitor the patterns and practices of police agencies repeatedly accused of police brutality and officer involved shootings.

She said she’s been in contact with about 75 social justice groups around the country who are volunteering, helping organize the event or attending the event. Some of those groups are paying for their local mothers to attend the event.

Federal investigators are reviewing Hamilton’s shooting to determine if Manney violated federal civil rights laws. Dean Puschnig, spokesman for U.S. Attorney James Santelle, couldn’t comment on the status of that Monday. The family is also considering filing a civil lawsuit, but they are waiting for the federal investigation to wrap up, according to one of the Hamilton family attorney’s Jon Safran.

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