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“I have sympathy on both sides:” Christopher Manney’s testimony has some seeing him in a new light

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A handful of folks watched Sunday, March 22nd in an overflow room at the Municipal Court building as fired Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney took the stand in his appeal hearing. It was the first time we've heard from Manney since he shot and killed 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton in Red Arrow Park last April.

overflow room

One observer says her opinion of Manney changed after watching his testimony Sunday.

"I seen some of the sadness on his face and the regret. I have sympathy on both sides," Annalisa Geschke Papadopoulos said.

Papadopoulos says she now empathizes with Manney, but she hasn't made up her mind yet as to whether he should have lost his job over the shooting.

"I see the remorse in Officer Manney`s testimony and I also feel for Mr. Hamilton`s family," Papadopoulos said.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn fired Manney in October 2014, saying Manney treated Hamilton like a criminal when he decided to pat him down. It was that pat down that cost Manney his job.

“There`s a set of training and enforcements that you are taught and you don`t go hands on and start frisking somebody only because they appear to be mentally ill. Christopher Manney treated Hamilton as though he were a dangerous criminal instead of following his training,” Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said in announcing Manney’s firing from MPD.

On December 22nd, 2014, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office announced Manney’s “use of force” in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton was “justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime.”

hamilton family

Hearing Christopher Manney's testimony Sunday didn't change Dontre Hamilton's family's opinion of him.

"It was kind of hard to listen to him talk. All I can say is disgusting. What we`ve been saying is Christopher Manney belongs in jail. I would be emotional too if I knew I broke the law and that my life is in the hands of others," Nate Hamilton said.

Nate Hamilton said he objects to many of the statements Manney made in court -- especially one that a bulge in his brother's pocket on the day of the shooting looked like a weapon.

"It was a little baggie full of stuff. It wasn`t big bulges of stuff," Nate Hamilton said.

Christopher Manney

Christopher Manney

For two hours, as Christopher Manney testified, Dontre Hamilton's mother Maria sat just feet away from him.

"It`s a bunch of lies," Maria Hamilton said of Manney's testimony. "I`m fed up and the federal government needs to step in and dismantle this whole system."

There appeared to be more officers on hand Sunday than there were spectators in the overflow room. While watching testimony, people remained calm and respectful.

Testimony in the Manney appeal got underway on Thursday evening.

A session on Monday will be held at a new location. Instead of the Municipal Court building, Monday’s session will be held at Centennial Hall in the main branch of the Milwaukee Public Library.

A panel of three Fire and Police Commissioners will ultimately make the decision as to whether Christopher Manney should get his job back.

Phase one of the hearing is focusing on whether Manney violated police policy with his search of Hamilton. If the panel says “yes,” the hearing will go to the next phase. Phase two will determine whether Manney’s punishment (his termination from MPD) was appropriate.

In December, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm announced Manney wouldn’t face criminal charges in this case.

5 comments

  • why

    How in the world would Nate know what’s in his brothers pocket? Come on! I’m a white man and have been put on the ground during a routine traffic stop in New Berlin. I want Nate to be REAL and truly come forward in person or document about every person in his family that held restraining orders against Dontre. Produce facts in black and white! I could care less if the cop gets his job back.

    • aa2016

      Why does his family history matter? It may change your opinion, but it has NOTHING to do with this case. It certainly doesn’t change the fact that officers need to comply with the policies set forth by the department. Officer Manney lost his job, because he did a pat down that is not in accordance with the MPD standard of practice. It doesn’t matter if society thinks he was justified. He was sufficiently trained and should have known better. You don’t get to make the rules as you go, just because you’re a cop. And no disrespect, I don’t know the details of your traffic stop, however a traffic stop is initiated due to a law violation of some kind. So if you were committing a crime (no matter how insignificant), that already puts you in a separate category. This was a welfare check. Dontre Hamilton had not committed a crime, nor was he in the process of committing a crime. Officer Manney himself, stated he did not believe that Mr. Hamilton had a weapon, but he thought he “might have” because most of “the homeless” do. Officer Manney also stated he did not fear for his safety when he decided to put his hands on Dontre Hamilton. So…if you have someone who isn’t committing a crime, you aren’t sure they have a weapon AND are going to use it to harm you, and you aren’t fearful…you don’t have justification for the pat down. If you do think someone is about to commit a crime, you do believe they are armed and a risk to your safety and you do have significant fear, you need to call for backup (per the policy) and Manney didn’t do that either. So either way, he failed to do what he was trained to do and it resulted in a senseless death.

  • why

    If I cut you and you cut me we both bleed. If you put your hands around my neck and I put my hands around yours we both don’t breathe. I enjoy life with Blacks, Latinos, Asians. When will we wake up Killwaukee?

  • Liberal Payout

    Let the feds come in and dismantle the whole system, really? System works fine for law abiding citizens. Although their may be some rogue cops out their most cops enjoy helping people. Blacks, it seems don’t care about whites nor do they care about the police in general. Blacks don’t really do anything to stop the black on black killings. They need to stop breeding fatherless children that have no direction and grow up to be thugs. I don’t care if you are black or white. Actions speak louder than words, It seems that the inner city has it’s own set of rules but not boundaries, they try to act out the same rules outside their self made no go zone and that doesn’t sit right with law abiding citizens. Need to infiltrate the inner city with a cop on each block and suppress the inner city criminals that have destroyed many lives. The liberal narrative does’nt fit anymore.

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