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Dontre Hamilton’s mother: Something happened 15 mins before shooting that could’ve saved him

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- After the last shot was fired by an officer at Milwaukee's Red Arrow Park on Wednesday, April 30th an investigation began into why a man was killed.

Police say it began with a struggle between an officer and 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton.

The officer encountered Hamilton laying on the ground. A witness tells police the officer helped him to his feet — and was attempting to conduct a field interview. The officer was patting Hamilton down when a struggle ensued. The officer withdrew his wooden baton to defend himself, and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says Hamilton took the officer’s baton from him and began striking him in the head. That’s when the officer withdrew his service weapon — a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson — and fired “several shots” at Hamilton — striking him several times, ultimately causing his death.

About a day before the officer-involved shooting, Maria Hamilton, the mother of the man gunned down, received a chilling, emotional, and terrifying phone call from her son that would prove tragically accurate.

Maria Hamilton

Maria Hamilton

"He said he loved me and that he was going to die," said Hamilton's mother.

Dontre Hamilton struggled with schizophrenia. The symptoms included what friends and family called the demons in his head, or auditory hallucinations.

"He was experiencing voices," said Hamilton's mother.

His mother says in the past, those voices resulted in Hamilton stabbing himself in the neck, and forcing her to call the police on him as part of a disorderly conduct incident.

As long as he received his monthly anti-psychotic shots, his family says Hamilton's symptoms seemed to vanish, but his last shot of medication was received in December.

"They told him at the outreach program that he wasn't insured so they didn't give him a shot," said Hamilton's mother.

The family claims he was insured and describes a mental health bureaucracy battle to get him treatment.

On Monday, he was seen by a worker who determined he wasn't in danger, but would get him help. On Wednesday, Hamilton's mother got word the treatment was available.

"I was on the phone with them at 3:15 p.m.," said Hamilton's mother.

Police say Hamilton was shot around 3:30 p.m.

FOX6's Jeremy Ross: "If he got those shots, are we even talking today?"

"No," Hamilton's mother said.

Jeremy Ross: "Is this a failure of the mental health system?"

"Yes, and I blame them," Hamilton's mother said.

9 comments

  • POLICE WIFE

    VERY SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS

    I know how hard it is dealing with a family member that suffers from mental health issues and it is definitely hard to see them in that state of mind with out the proper meds.

    my condolences to your family

  • Brian Lemoine

    There is a big problem here! In defense and arrest tactics -why did the officer rasie the level of force to level 4 pulling out the baton? In level 4 officers can use a baton-taser-pepper spray-why the baton . And in active counter mesures a level 3 hands on suspect arrest mode physical force-fighting! In other words level 1 investigative talk field interview , to level 2 loud vebal commands, to level 3 hands on suspect arrest mode active counter mesures, level 4 inpact weapons -pepper spray-taser level , Second having pepper spray could have renderd the suspect inmoblie ,or disorientated to make handcuffing,or time for police assistance from another officer to assist the arrest.How did it go from 1 to 4 in force – officer pulling out his baton during a radio warrants check? And then a level 5 deadly force firearm. The levels of force used in this incident under policy-practice-custom of defense and arrest tacticts the officer pulled out his baton on a unarmed man-clearly suffering from mental health issues triggering the suspect to fear police exsessive force took the officers baton defending himself and the officer shooting him…..

  • Brian Lemoine

    And may I add how many rounds from a 40cal is needed to injure a suspect to inmolbize any and all threat to officer,or public? 10 rounds fired into the suspcet is over kill ,and meant to kill ! A Baton does not have the distructive killing power of a firearm -defensive retreat,and peper spray,or taser would have been justified use of force against a baton armed suspect. Police state in murder investigations shooting victims with many bullet wounds fired into the victim shows revenge – rage- clear assassination !!! My deepest regards to the family in this unjust incident!

  • kat

    This story is so sas. My god give the Hamilton family strenghth. This type of thing happens oh too often and its sad on both sides. With things like this medical facilities should give medications like this even when medical does not cover it so this does not happen.

    • Kristin

      You are exactly right. These medications are much too vital to their well being to be skipped.

  • Kristin

    I bet he’d still be alive today if he’d have received his monthly shots. I can’t stress enough how vital an anti phychotic medication is to a schizophrenic or someone with schizo affective disorder. Those shots allow the person to function and live a markedly better life. There needs to be a program where they are discounted if insurance is an issue. I hope his death wasn’t in vain and mental illness is put front and center of issues that need to be addressed.

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