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Dontre Hamilton's Family Files Federal Civil Rights Lawsuit

UPDATE: The family of Dontre Hamilton filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday.

Hamilton was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer April 30, 2014 in Red Arrow Park. The officer, Christopher Manney, was fired after the incident, but both the Milwaukee County District Attorney and federal prosecutors declined to press criminal charges.

The lawsuit names Manney and the City of Milwaukee as defendants.

“Nothing will bring him back,” said Nate Hamilton, Dontre’s brother. “Not a dollar amount, not Christopher Manney going to jail, but what we can do through this civil suit is make them more conscious.”

Nate says the lawsuit his family filed Wednesday is about changing the way Milwaukee police do business. The suit argues the department didn't properly train officers, especially in areas like crisis intervention and dealing with mentally ill people.

“This department has had numerous problems that have been shown to exist in the department that we think have led to these types of constitutional violations,” said Jonathan Safran, one of the family’s attorneys.

The suit also states there is a pattern of excessive use of force in the department and that officers who break the rules aren't disciplined.

“The police department generally does things well,” said Alex Flynn, another attorney for the family. “What this is, is when a rogue and a scoundrel is identified the police department does not handle that well.”

Attorneys for the family say this is one of the last chances to get justice in the system, but Dontre's mother, Maria Hamilton, vows to keep fighting.

“Until we can identify the failures and the people that are covering up these particular types of acts of violence, we're going to continue to have this problem,” Maria said.

The lawsuit doesn't ask for a specific dollar amount, but Nate says the family would put some of that money back in to the community.

“We hope to plant the seed of justice around the city of Milwaukee so every family can know what justice is,” Nate said. “So that we can really see what justice look like, so we can really feel what a non bias system works like.”

The Milwaukee City Attorney’s Office declined to comment. 

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Dontre Hamilton’s family has filed a Federal civil rights lawsuit in Milwaukee on Wednesday.

The family said in a statement they are “seeking justice and accountability for the tragic and unnecessary death of Dontre at Red Arrow Park in Milwaukee on April 30, 2014.”

The lawsuit named both former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney and the City of Milwaukee as defendants.

“Previously, the Milwaukee County District Attorney refused to issue state criminal charges against former Officer Manney. Likewise, the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and the United States Attorney’s Office refused to issue federal criminal charges against Manney. As the two-year anniversary of the shooting death of Dontre approaches, the family is left with one final avenue to obtain accountability and justice for this tragedy. We have, therefore, filed this civil lawsuit,” said the family in a statement from their attorney.

The complaint filed in Federal court is 46 pages.

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