Local leaders react to charging decision in Dontre Hamilton case

Local leaders are reacting to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm's decision to not file criminal charges against former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney following the fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park on April 30. 

Congresswoman Gwen Moore issued the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed in District Attorney John Chisholm's decision to not press charges against Officer Christopher Manney in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton. This decision is just one of many in recent weeks that continue to perpetuate a disheartening notion that there is a significant lapse in accountability for reckless officers and the behavior they employ in our communities. For those who see this decision as a miscarriage of justice, I assure you that our efforts to pursue a fair and equitable outcome for the Hamilton family are far from over. In the coming days, I will be asking the Department of Justice to conduct their own investigation into this matter to ensure that Dontre's death will not be in vain. It is paramount that we channel our collective grief and frustration in a constructive manner. We must rigorously pursue justice, including changes to police procedure and training regarding the appropriate use of force. This, not violence, will honor Dontre's memory. As a mother and grandmother, I can't imagine the anguish and disappointment the Hamilton family must be feeling right now. My heart goes out to them during this painful time.\"

Milwaukee County Supervisor David Bowen issued this statement:
“The 14 shots fired seems excessive for an unarmed citizen who was not known to act violently prior to police contact, and calls into question the decision not to file criminal charges while calling this justified self-defense,” Bowen said. “This is a tragedy that occurs far too frequently both in our community and around the country. We are saddened and outraged, and we want justice from a system that clearly attempts to be the ‘Just Us' system. It is imperative to our cause for a better future that massive numbers of people engage in creative protest. This series of senseless violence will only end when we stand firmly together with righteousness in our hearts. The lives of our community matter, and I pray for the Hamilton family's strength.”

Milwaukee Alderman Joe Davis, Sr. issued this statement:

\"As Christians, this is a very important time of year for my family, my friends and my community. But as we enter this holy season, the faith community should be questioning the timing of a controversial decision that has had such a traumatic impact on the City of Milwaukee.
Almost eight months ago, an incident occurred here in the city that caused divides and an unsettled environment that have continued for members of the public and law enforcement. In the months that followed, we saw verdicts come down in other cases of death at the hands of law enforcement elsewhere in the country. Meanwhile, we sat and waited patiently for local authorities to address the issue of Dontre Hamilton's shooting death in Red Arrow Park. In a public space, no one should get shot 14 times by anyone, especially here in Milwaukee. The district attorney has had almost eight months to make his decision. But whether his choice today was right or wrong, we have to question why he chose a time three days before Christmas to render this controversial decision. Was the timing of this decision influenced by the recent decisions in Ferguson and New York City? Was it influenced by the murder of two law enforcement officers this weekend in Brooklyn? Was it influenced by the civil disobedience that took place on the freeway here in Milwaukee? In this holiest of seasons, we should be gathering together with family and friends to celebrate the birth of Our Lord and Savior. It's not a time of year when the justice system should be competing for our attention to render such a divisive verdict. Politics should have no place in justice. 
I don't know what role politics played in the timing of today's announcement, and this is not about the law enforcement officers who get up every day and serve this community with integrity and courage. But I do see it as evidence of a growing divide, and I truly believe that Milwaukee is a broken city.\" 

Milwaukee Alderman and Common Council President Michael J. Murphy issued this statement:

\"It's important, in the wake of the district attorney's decision today, that we recognize first and foremost the pain that continues for the family of Dontre Hamilton. At the heart of this tragedy are a mother who lost her son through a violent death and a family that is missing a loved one in this holiday season. They have suffered for nearly eight months awaiting answers, and our community continues to grieve with them. Some members of our community may feel the need to express their feelings in the wake of this decision. Though the family and officer are at the heart of this matter, the community as a whole has been traumatized and continues to try to make sense of this situation. If there are demonstrations or disobedience, I would implore those who participate to express themselves in a manner that does not place members of the public in harm's way. It is everyone's right to make their voices heard, just as it is everyone's right to go about their business in safety. My thoughts and prayers go to everyone involved.\"

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan issued this statement:

\"I've said from the beginning—Dontre Hamilton's death is a tragedy. But in the case of the decision not to charge Officer Christopher Manney, I believe the district attorney has made the correct choice. It's a choice that is based on facts—not on rhetoric, not on politics, not on protests, but on facts. Having said that, it's worth reiterating, most especially in light of the DA's decision today, that Officer Manney's firing is an ill-conceived, politically-motivated attempt to placate protestors. It's clear to anyone who watched the news this weekend or tried to use the interstate on Friday night that, in that attempt, they failed. The irresponsible behavior by some of these protestors needs to come to an end. Law and order must be maintained in our communities at all costs. We find ourselves in the midst of an apparent war on police across the nation. Even as this tragedy continues to play out here in Milwaukee, my thoughts turn to the heinous and cowardly assassination of two NYPD officers this weekend. It's beyond belief that things have gone that far. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those victims in New York, and with officers nationwide who have to strap on their bulletproof vests this week. My fear is that this violence could escalate and impact more lives. As a nation and as a community, I believe the time is now to step back, take a deep breath and realize that police officers are not the problem. They are a part of the solution. These brave men and women put their lives on the line daily. Sadly, they are called upon to man the fine line that prevents our neighborhoods, both nationally and locally, from descending into utter chaos. And yet, many people consistently fail to recognize the sacrifices that our police officers make on a daily basis. It's ironic that one of the most persistent chants we've heard throughout the course of these protests is, “No justice, no peace.” Where is the justice for the citizens who live in fear, clamoring for more police and quicker response times in their crime-ridden neighborhoods? Where is the justice for children who are growing up in terrible environments, surrounded by crime and violence? Where is the justice for my constituents and other residents of Milwaukee who are being told that the scarce police we do have are being diverted from their usual beats to babysit these protesters? And where is the justice for these officers who are demonized, even as they take time away from their families during the holidays to do the best job they can at protecting and serving the very people who demonize them? Where is the justice for these officers, who face danger every day but, sadly, fear their command staff more than they fear the criminal element? Keeping all of this in mind, I find myself in total agreement: no justice, no peace.\"

Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello issued this statement:

\"The Milwaukee Police Association respects and concurs with the decision of the District Attorney's Office.  A thorough investigation aided by expert consultants obviously provided the DA with the necessary  information which guided the DA in making the proper decision.  Officer Manney' s actions were reasonable and justified considering the threat – while truly an unfortunate situation, there simply was no other option available.\"                                  
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