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Killing of Dontre Hamilton

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Killing of Dontre Hamilton
Hamilton depicted on a mural at the intersection of Holton Street and North Avenue in Milwaukee.
DateApril 30, 2014 (2014-04-30)
LocationRed Arrow Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
ParticipantsChristopher Manney
OutcomeManney fired from Milwaukee Police Department
DeathsDontre Hamilton
ChargesNone filed

On April 30, 2014, Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by police officer Christopher Manney, at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. No charges were brought, but Manney was fired from the force. As a result of the shooting and subsequent protests, Milwaukee police officers were equipped with body cameras.


Dontre D. Hamilton (1983 – April 30, 2014), of Milwaukee, was 31 years old at the time of his death.[1] Hamilton had a history of mental illness.[1][2] According to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, Hamilton had a prior history of arrests in Milwaukee which were "directly connected to mental health issues." However, it was later revealed that Dontre had no history of arrest and the reference history actually belonged to his brother. [1] Hamilton's family stated that Hamilton had been treated for schizophrenia but was not violent.[2][3] In the days before his death, Hamilton told his family that he was "tired and hungry, and that somebody was going to kill him."[2]


On April 30, 2014, Manney shot Hamilton fourteen times, killing him.[3] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel summarized the events as follows:[3]

Before the encounter, a pair of officers responding to a call that Hamilton was asleep in the park checked on him twice and found he was doing nothing wrong. When Manney arrived, he was not aware that other officers had preceded him. As Manney began to pat down Hamilton, Hamilton fought him, and a confrontation ensued. Manney tried to use his baton to subdue Hamilton, but Hamilton got control of it and swung at Manney, hitting him on the side of the neck, according to Milwaukee police internal affairs.

No additional weapons were found on Hamilton's person.[3]



The investigation was carried out by the Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation, a statewide agency, but the lead agents for the investigation were former Milwaukee police officers.[3]

The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office conducted an investigation. In December 2014, District Attorney John Chisholm found the use of force to be in self-defense and declined to prosecute.[3][4][5][6]

A federal investigation took place,[7] and was closed in November 2015, with federal authorities determining that there was insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Manney.[8]

Firing of Manney[edit]

After the shooting, Manney applied for duty disability, saying the shooting and its aftermath caused him to experience severe post-traumatic stress disorder.[3]

Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney after the shooting.[9] In March 2015, a three-member panel of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission unanimously upheld the firing, sustaining and confirming the two conclusions of an internal investigation, which determined that:

  1. Manney had conducted a frisking process without a reasonable suspicion.
  2. Manney did not follow departmental "Defense and Arrest Tactics."[9]

The firing does not affect Manney's pending disability application.[9]


In 2014, Jovan Blacknell was retained by the family of Hamilton.[10][11] In 2017, the Hamilton family received a 2.3 million dollar settlement from the City of Milwaukee.[12]


Dontre's brother, Nate Hamilton, has also since co-founded the Coalition for Justice, an organization that has led rallies, marches, and street clean-ups. The Black Lives Matter movement has also protested about Hamilton's death.[13]

Policy changes[edit]

In the aftermath of Hamilton's death, "Hamilton's family members worked with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the Police Department and other city leaders to have all officers receive Crisis Intervention Team training, considered the gold standard for working with people in psychiatric crisis, by 2017."[3]

Additionally, eight Milwaukee aldermen and a majority of the Milwaukee Common Council, called in December 2014 for equipping all city police officers with body cameras on an expedited basis.[14] In October 2015, the Fire and Police Commission approved, by a 4–1 vote, a new policy requiring "most Milwaukee police officers to wear body cameras at all times while on duty, though they will not be required to have the devices always activated."[15] A four-phase implementation process was developed, and officers began to wear the cameras in October 2015.[16] However, following a similar police shooting of a Milwaukee black man in 2016, the Milwaukee Police Department was criticized for not submitting a review of its new patterns and practices.[17]


In 2017, the film The Blood is at the Doorstep was released, which features Hamilton's family in the immediate months following his death. Directed by Erik Ljung, it was nominated for a SXSW Grand Jury Award, and won a Golden Badge Award at the Wisconsin Film Festival.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kissinger, Meg; Luthern, Ashley (May 2, 2014). "More training sought after fatal shooting by Milwaukee police". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Sanchick, Myra (December 24, 2014). "Documents describe Dontre Hamilton's battle with mental illness, his family's efforts to get him help". WITI. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Luthern, Ashley (December 22, 2014). "Ex-Milwaukee officer won't be charged in Dontre Hamilton shooting". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  4. ^ "Dontre Hamilton case: Former officer not charged in fatal Milwaukee shooting". CBS News. December 22, 2014. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  5. ^ Koplowitz, Howard (December 22, 2014). "Dontre Hamilton Shooting: Milkwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney Not Charged As Protests Ignite". The International Business Times. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  6. ^ "Milwaukee shooting: Federal probe for Dontre Hamilton death". BBC News. December 13, 2014. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  7. ^ Luthern, Ashley (April 14, 2015). "Dontre Hamilton family to mark one-year anniversary of shooting". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  8. ^ "Federal Officials Close Review into the Death of Dontre Hamilton". Federal Bureau of Investigation. November 10, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  9. ^ a b c Luthern, Ashley (March 24, 2015). "Panel upholds firing of police officer Manney in Hamilton case". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  10. ^ "California attorney takes interest in Dontre Hamilton's death, flies to Milwaukee". FOX6Now.com. May 9, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  11. ^ "Dontre Hamilton family retains attorneys to gain information". Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  12. ^ Cherelus, Gina (June 2017). "Family Of Dontre Hamilton, Teen Killed By Police, Receives $2.5 Million Settlement". Huffington Post. Retrieved July 26, 2018.
  13. ^ Seigle, Max (December 15, 2014). "Many participate in 'Black Lives Matter' rally downtown". WISN-TV. Retrieved May 26, 2015.
  14. ^ Behm, Don (December 23, 2014). "Aldermen call for body cameras for all city officers". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  15. ^ Garza, Jesse (October 15, 2015). "Commission approves Milwaukee police body camera policy". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  16. ^ "Milwaukee police to update commission on body cameras: Officers have been using cameras since October". WISN-TV. February 18, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2016.
  17. ^ Ehlke, Gretchen (August 14, 2016). "Volunteers clean up after violence on Milwaukee's north side". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved August 14, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Holloway, Mike (April 30, 2018). "'The Blood is at the Door Step' is a heart-wrenching look at police violence and mental illness". Wisconsin Gazette. Retrieved December 27, 2019.