- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015
“Million Moms” march planned for Washington on Mother’s Day

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.

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Daley boosts coffers in Wisconsin Supreme Court race

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Supreme Court hopeful James Daley boosted his cash over the last two months but incumbent Justice Ann Walsh Bradley still has the edge on him in the money game

Daley and Bradley were expected to file finance reports with state election officials on Monday covering the period between Feb. 3 and March 23.

Neither side had filed as of Monday afternoon, but Daley’s campaign reported he raised about $148,500 over the period and had $214,100 on hand. Previous reports show Daley raised $65,000 during January and had about $88,400 on hand as of Feb. 2.

Bradley’s campaign reported raising $380,696 and $281,000 on hand. Previous reports show she raised about $109,000 in January and had $352,900 in the bank as of Feb. 2.

The election is April 7.

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Murder charge filed in 1990 death of Berit Beck

MILWAUKEE (AP) - A murder charge has been filed against a Wisconsin man in the slaying of a woman nearly 25 years ago, a case that a local sheriff says has “haunted” some detectives for their entire careers.

Dennis J. Brantner, 61, of Kenosha, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old Berit Beck, who was traveling from her home in the southern Wisconsin community of Sturtevant to a computer training seminar in Appleton, about 110 miles north. The van Beck was driving was located in the parking lot of a Kmart store in Fond du Lac, two days after her July 17, 1990, disappearance.

Beck’s body was found more than a month later in a ditch in the Fond du Lac County Town of Waupun. An autopsy showed she had probably been strangled. A red gag was found tied around her head, according to investigators.

Bond for Brantner was set at $1 million cash during a court appearance Monday and he remained in the Fond du Lac County Jail. Brantner’s attorney asked for $10,000 bail, saying his client was not a risk to flee.

“Mr. Brantner is innocent. He has been nothing but cooperative with investigators since they named him as a suspect one year ago,” defense attorney Craig Powell of Milwaukee told The Associated Press on Monday.

Fond du Lac Sheriff Mick Fink was a detective at the time Beck was killed. Fink said he wasn’t celebrating the arrest.

“I don’t see a win in this. I don’t see a win for the Beck family. I don’t see a win in it for anyone,” Fink said at a news conference Monday. “I don’t feel anything other than it was tragedy.”

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Wisconsin lawmakers introduce online ridesharing regulations

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Online ride-sharing companies would have to apply for state licenses, require criminal background checks on drivers and insure their operations under a bill that Wisconsin legislators introduced Monday.

The newly emerging companies, such as well-known Uber and Lyft, compete with traditional taxi and limo outfits by allowing customers to request rides from contract drivers through smartphone apps. Government officials nationwide have been struggling to play regulatory catch-up with the companies.

The Wisconsin bill’s chief author, Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, said the measure would eliminate a patchwork of local ordinances and help facilitate transportation in under-served areas.

Under the measure, the companies would have to obtain a $5,000 license from the state. The companies or a third party would have to conduct a criminal background check on driver applicants.

Anyone convicted of moving violations, sex offenses or a number of other serious crimes would be barred from driving. The companies, the drivers or some combination thereof also would have to maintain at least $1 million in liability insurance. Local governments would be prohibited from imposing their own ordinances on the the industry.

Uber media officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Lyft spokeswoman Chelsea Wilson called the legislation a “common-sense regulatory framework.”

Paul Bittorf, a member of the Wisconsin Association of Taxicab Owners and business manager of Union Cab, the largest cab company in Madison, said the bill is far too lax. The new companies should be subject to the same requirements as taxis, with permits for individual drivers, background checks by law enforcement and vehicle inspections. He also questioned how the state could possibly verify the ride-share companies actually follow the law.

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