MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Tuesday, September 30th marked five months since Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer inside Red Arrow Park. About 100 supporters of Dontre Hamilton gathered to rally on Tuesday evening to mark the anniversary of his death.
Since 31-year-old Hamilton's death in April, his family and supporters haven't sat quiet. They've held several demonstrations -- and they've made it clear to city leaders they won't stop anytime soon.
On Tuesday evening -- another demonstration the city has come to recognize. Supporters of Dontre Hamilton gathered to make another plea for answers and a demand for justice. They carried a casket through the streets of downtown Milwaukee.
"Just too long, you know. We're hurting," Hamilton's brother, Nathaniel said.
Hamilton’s family members are awaiting a charging decision by the District Attorney’s Office. They and others have called for the officer’s name to be made public, and for details on the injuries the officer is said to have suffered prior to the shooting.
The District Attorney’s Office has asked for a second independent investigation in the case. The state DOJ’s Department of Criminal Investigation has already completed its independent investigation, as required by law, and has handed its report over to the District Attorney’s Office.
"How many months do we have to re-live this, before we get answers? Before we get true answers?" Nathaniel Hamilton said.
Before Tuesday's march, police offered assistance, and warned arrests could be made.
"We are here to facilitate demonstrations and protests. That's what the police should do. We can no longer tolerate the blocking of freeways or blocking of intersections," MPD Deputy Inspector Stephen Basting said.
On Thursday, Hamilton's family members said they would no longer participate in disruptive marches like one that happened last week.
"We won't march just to disrespect community members, but we'll march to a destination and when we get to that destination, we will let our voices be heard," Nathaniel Hamilton said.
Police blocked roads as protesters marched. No arrests were made, and no citations were handed out.
Last Wednesday evening, friends and family members of Dontre Hamilton gathered for a rally and it led to streets being shut down during rush hour.
The group marched to City Hall in the hopes of getting a meeting with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. When they didn’t hear from him, the demonstrators took to the streets.
Chants for justice echoes throughout downtown Milwaukee as demonstrators marched down Water Street — eventually making their way to I-794 near Jackson and Van Buren — blocking a ramp on I-794 — where about 100 cars were trying to exit. They walked up the ramp, and were quickly stopped by approaching Sheriff’s deputies in both vans and on motorcycles — and police officers on motorcycles.
The demonstrators then turned around walked back down the ramp — continuing to march on busy downtown Milwaukee streets. Demonstrators chanted as frustrated drivers honked and yelled.
That rally raised questions about the Milwaukee Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office's handling of protesters who block streets and disrupt traffic.
Following that rally, Jonathan Safran, the attorney for Dontre Hamilton's family said in the 24 hours following the protest, the family participation in the protests. They now say they're done disrupting traffic and are asking others to follow suit.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee County Alderwoman Milele Coggs announced she has sent a letter to the state's Department of Justice asking that the report conducted by the DOJ's Division of Criminal Investigation be released in accordance with the state's Open Records Law.
Coggs has issued the following statement:
"Last week I sent a letter to the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice, asking under the provisions of Wisconsin’s Open Records law for a copy of the report conducted by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) into the death of Mr. Dontre Hamilton. Today marks five months to the day since he was shot in Red Arrow Park.
It is my understanding that the report was completed nearly one month ago and turned over to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office. As, by definition, the investigation by the CID is complete, I can see no reason—legal or otherwise—why this report should now be withheld.
My hope is that the state DOJ will review this request and, as these reports are a new kind of record, affirm my belief that they are public records subject to full disclosure. More importantly, I am also hopeful that the DOJ will release the report so that it can be shared with the Hamilton family and the public as soon as possible.
For the sake of transparency, the public deserves access to the information that is contained in the CID report, and I see no reason why it cannot be released. Unfortunately the District Attorney is still examining the case to determine whether any charges should be filed against the police officer who shot Mr. Hamilton. However, there is no legal reason, in my view, to withhold the CID report until the DA’s decision is announced.
The new state law requiring review of in-custody deaths by an outside agency has flaws, but I believe the delay in releasing information from the investigation into the death of Mr. Hamilton is unnecessary and has made the situation for the grieving Hamilton family that much more painful."
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