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Manney use of force in Hamilton shooting ruled “justified self-defense,” will not face charges

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office released a report on Monday morning, December 22nd that indicates former Milwaukee Police Officer Christopher Manney's "use of force" in the shooting death of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton was "justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime."

"The death of Dontre Hamilton is a tragedy to everyone involved.  My decision is that charges will not be issued against Officer Manney," said Chisholm.

It is a decision that many, even the family of Dontre Hamilton, say they expected.

"I am deeply aware of the very real and serious reasons for concern that are not swayed by passion or judgment of making these decisions regardless of how popular or unpopular that decision is," said Chisholm.

Chishold sought advice from local and national use-of-force experts before bringing charges against Manney.

CLICK HERE to read complete report released by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office

On April 30th, Hamilton was sleeping in Red Arrow Park. Then-Officer Christopher Manney was performing a welfare check, and police say Hamilton grabbed Manney’s baton and struck him with it. That’s when Christopher Manney opened fire, shooting Hamilton 14 times.

Manney has already been fired for action leading up to the shooting of Hamilton -- and he is appealing his termination.

The district attorney released a lengthy document detailing the accounts of several witnesses who describe the confrontation between Officer Manney and Dontre Hamilton, who had been sleeping in the park. One witness says the two struggled when Manney frisked Hamilton. Manney struck Hamilton with his baton. Hamilton grabbed the baton and struck the officer.

Another witness described Hamilton as holding the baton menacingly and seemed to be advancing on the officer as the officer yelled commands. Manney fired and Hamilton fell to the ground.

Chisholm says 13 to 14 shots were fired. To show how quickly that can happen, a video was shown with an officer using a gun like Manney's. 14 shots were discharged in 2.9 seconds.

"There is no standard that says an officer is required to stop and re-assess the situation after x amount of rounds," said Chisholm.

According to the autopsy report, the medical examiner's office found 11 bullets in Hamilton's body. His family's attorney said Monday they're equally concerned about abrasions and contusions on Hamilton's head and neck.

"That's the part we don't understand. There is the ability for someone to resist if there is unreasonable force addressed against them and that may have been what Dontre Hamilton was doing," said Jonathon Safran, Hamilton family attorney.

The Hamilton family also points to the fact two officers had previously checked on Hamilton that day and left him alone. They believe Manney was unjust trying to pat-down Hamilton in the first place. While that pat-down led to the decision to fire Manney, Chisholm says that doesn't change whether the shooting was in self-defense.

"My decision has nothing to do with the initial encounter with Mr. Hamilton, right or wrong. That's a decision that's been made by the police department, that's a decision that may be very well be the subject of civil litigation," said Chisholm.

FOX6 News has now learned the U.S. Department of Justice will open a civil rights investigation into the incident. We should note that even though the internal police review led to Manney firing, police also determined the shooting was justified -- it was the pat-down that breached protocol.

As for Officer Manney's statement to investigators, he says he felt he was out of options and drew his weapon hoping Hamilton would stop. Hamilton continued to advance toward him and Manney fired numerous times, but stopped when Hamilton was on the ground.

The district attorney says Manney is allowed to use force to stop the threat of death or great bodily harm. Chisholm says he knows some in the public will not like it.

"I'm never concerned for my safety. Like I said, I'm a volunteer. I believe strongly in the mission of the D.A.'s office. I believe in treating people fairly," said Chisholm.

In the report released Monday, Chisholm concluded the following:

"After reviewing all the evidence, I believe there can be little serious doubt that P.O. Manney was justified in firing at Dontre Hamilton, who was attacking him with a deadly weapon (baton). The more difficult issue is whether P.O. Manney fired more shots than necessary, or continued firing after he could reasonably perceive that Hamilton was clearly no longer a threat.

"It does not appear to me, based on all the evidence I have reviewed, that P.O. Manney continued firing after the point in time when a hypothetical “reasonable officer at the scene” under the totality of the circumstances existing in this case, would have stopped firing. The use of deadly force against Dontre Hamilton was not a choice P.O. Manney made voluntarily, but was instead a defensive action forced upon him by Dontre Hamilton’s deadly attack with a police baton.”

As part of the report released on Monday, District Attorney John Chisholm consulted with a national use of force expert, Emanuel Kapelsohn of the Peregrine Corporation. Kapelsohn was given access to all materials in this investigation -- concluded the following:

"After reviewing all the evidence, I believe there can be little serious doubt that P.O. Manney was justified in firing at Dontre Hamilton, who was attacking him with a deadly weapon (baton). The more difficult issue is whether P.O. Manney fired more shots than necessary, or continued firing after he could reasonably perceive that Hamilton was clearly no longer a threat. Police officers in Milwaukee and throughout the United States are trained to fire to “stop the threat”. The 13 or 14 shots fired by P.O. Manney would, in all likelihood, have been fired in roughly 3 to 4 seconds total elapsed time, from first shot to last. The wound locations and wound paths through the deceased’s body are consistent with shots fired at an attacker who is first advancing toward the officer, then turning and falling. While, as can be expected, the many witnesses to this event give varying accounts of what they saw and heard, several witnesses with the best, closest views of what occurred have stated that P.O. Manney stopped firing when Hamilton fell to the ground, and Manney did not continue firing after that point. This is consistent with P.O. Manney’s own statement of what occurred. I find no physical evidence to prove otherwise, including information from the autopsy report, as confirmed by my own meeting and discussions with the doctor who performed the autopsy. Reaction time is needed to for an officer to stop firing a rapid series of shots when the officer perceives that an attacker has been “stopped” and then is falling. It does not appear to me, based on all the evidence I have reviewed, that P.O. Manney continued firing after the point in time when a hypothetical “reasonable officer at the scene” under the totality of the circumstances existing in this case, would have stopped firing. The use of deadly force against Dontre Hamilton was not a choice P.O. Manney made voluntarily, but was instead a defensive action forced upon him by Dontre Hamilton’s deadly attack with a police baton.”

Manney's statement is included in the report released by the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office. In the statement, he says the following:

"As he attempted to place his hands on Hamilton, Hamilton trapped Manney’s hands between his arms and body. Mr. Hamilton then twisted away from Manney so that he directly faced Manney and had his right hand balled in a fist. Officer Manney states that he tried to disengage and told Hamilton it was not worth it. At that point, Hamilton lunged at him and tried to strike him with a fist. Officer Manney blocked the punch and struck Hamilton with an open palm to the chin. This had no immediate effect on Hamilton. Hamilton then grabbed Manney in the shoulder area, pulled him towards him and struck him (Manney) in the right head area. Manney felt he was losing control and decided to escalate to his intermediate weapon, a wooden baton. Manney indicates that he chose the baton and not his OC spray because the OC spray was located on the right side of his belt and he was using his right arm to protect himself from strikes. While doing so he was issuing commands to Hamilton to stop resisting. Manney separated from Hamilton, removed his baton with his left hand and transferred it to his right hand. When Hamilton continued to be aggressive, Manney struck him once in the rib area with the baton. Manney states that Hamilton trapped his baton between his arms and his torso and spun away from Manney. Manney attempted to retain control of his baton but could not. Manney then attempted to disengage with Hamilton and attempted to hit the emergency button on his radio but could not because of the on-going struggle. Manney states that he felt he was out of options and that he had to escalate to drawing his weapon in the hope that Hamilton would stop. Manney states that he pushed away from Hamilton and was trying to draw his weapon when he felt a baton blow from Hamilton to his right neck area. Hamilton continued to advance on Manney, and Manney pushed away from Hamilton with his left arm and pointed his firearm with one hand at Hamilton’s chest area. As Hamilton continued to approach with Manney’s baton, and as Manney had his weapon drawn and pointed at Hamilton, Manney states that he feared Hamilton would attack him with the baton and that he “would be dead” as a result.

"Manney fired his weapon but it did not seem to have any effect on Hamilton, so he continued to fire while walking backwards from Hamilton. Hamilton fell forward and Manney continued to fire because he perceived Hamilton still to be a threat. He stopped firing when Hamilton was completely on the ground."

CLICK HERE to read Wisconsin Div. of Criminal Investigation report on Hamilton shooting death

CLICK HERE for further coverage of the Dontre Hamilton case via


  • o¿o

    21 gunshot wounds… This is VERY misleading. This makes it sound like he was shot 21 times, most people are not going to read past that, that it includes entry and exit wounds..

  • the truth

    This is the right and lawful decision. .no claim for the family. Nothing was done wrong….except they weren’t there when he needed them…

  • Sammy

    white men world..white men justice system..white men innocent.. Black man dead…it’s time for war..No Justice No Peace..I love You Dontre R.I.P

    • B

      where were dontre friends and family when he was on the street……if you had taken the time to CARE and HELP when he was alive this would never have occurred. There is enough blame for all involved… responsibility starts at home.

  • observer

    Wow, so full of hate.

    “It’s wrong to hate. It always has been wrong and it always will be wrong. It’s wrong in America, it’s wrong in Germany, it’s wrong in Russia, it’s wrong in China. It was wrong in 2000 B.C., and it’s wrong in 1954 A.D. It always has been wrong, and it always will be wrong.” -MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

    • Derrick

      He was fired because of the events that led up to the shooting. Two cops had already talked to Hamilton, and Manney also frisked Hamilton (which he DID NOT have the right to do), which escalated the situation. Manney’s life was in danger when he shot Hamilton, Hamilton had taken Manney’s baton from him, and struck him in the side of the neck. The shooting WAS JUSTIFIED. However, the reason Manney had to shoot Hamilton was due to Manney not following protocol, not because of Hamilton committing any crime.
      If you look at the FACTS of the case, they got both decisions right, in my opinion. I commend Chief Flynn for making the right decision, and same for Chisholm. The people who think he should get his job back are idiots, seriously. And I feel bad for the family protesting, it did seem to take a ridiculous amount of time, but now it’s over. The community needs to move one, and so do they.
      At my job, if I didn’t follow the correct protocol and someone died as a result, I’d be fired. End of story. Police should be held to the same, if not higher degree.

      • jacksprat57

        The article clearly states that a video was presented to the jury, showing that it takes as little as 2.9 seconds to fire that many shots. The remaining 27.1 seconds is plenty of time for the confrontation to escalate to that point. Don’t believe it? Watch any of the early Tyson fights or any good cage match. Fighting with someone who is in possession of a deadly weapon frequently proves to be a means of suicide.

    • jacksprat57

      The article quotes the D.A., who explained that clearly. The Officer violated policy, precipitating the confrontation. That’s why he was fired. In and of itself, that’s not a criminal offense. Resisting arrest is a criminal offense. Seizing that Officer’s weapon is a criminal offense. Striking the Officer with his baton is a criminal offense. Refusing to obey the Officer’s command to cease that attack and lay down said baton is a criminal offense. At that point, what would you suggest that the Officer do? Run away, leaving the criminal in possession of the baton?

      The Officer gave Hamilton plenty of chances. Sadly, he was unwilling and/or unable to seize any of those.

  • PH

    As was stated multiply times, do NOT resist arrest and you won’t be shot. The officer was out of options, should he have let Hamilton beat him with a baton?

    • wow!

      As if that really means anything. What about the numerous black ppl who have been shot who did nothing, had no weapon, didn’t resist did everything they were told by the arresting officers and still got shot and lost their life. Explain that I’ll wait? …….

      • Derek

        this is the exact type of incendiary commentand attitude that needs to be left completely out of this conversation. It doesn’t matter what’s happened in other cases. If that happened elsewhere then go protest there. This doesn’t at all fall into those categories and you’re escalating the issue by even mentioning it.

  • DaTruth

    That shooting is not justified. 14 times being shot is like being assassinated! So every person they pull their gun out on is shot just multiple times…! They are demonstrating the shooting on the news to try to justify it more. Your finger is pulling the trigger. They ask was the stop justified and couldn’t answer the question. The Law is corrupt and God will bring justice. This is history repeating itself!

    • DaTruth

      This is the authority committing a crime. They should not be killing out of fear, but doing things out of good judgement. When you are scared you will act out of thinking. Scared people should not be involved within law enforcement. The police are people just like anyone else! They should be held accountable for their actions. A lot of white cops come from backgrounds where they do not interact with black people. No one knows what’s in the mind of another. He was wrong for attacking the officer…true! But that does not warrant a death. You can heal from bruises and even if something is broken. But you can’t get up from being killed.

      • WI Family of 6

        So, the officer was supposed to accept that he should be beaten to death instead of defending himself? If the roles were reversed, I guarantee the outcome would have been the same. The only difference would be that there would have been no media coverage because a white man was killed by a black officer. Regardless of race, attacking an officer is breaking the law and they are authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves.

    • B

      No, being assassinated is when a black Muslim walks up behind you and empties his gun into you when your not looking and bragging that he intended to do it.

  • Shawn

    If anyone listened to the live footage of the DA announcing his verdict. The DA displayed a demonstration video of the exact gun that was used on Hamilton. In the video, it shows how fast it takes to shoot 14 rounds. It took only 2.9 seconds.. Some people will call it an assassination, but is it really? Being beaten in the head with his own baton, multiple times, is a enough to get shot in my mind. This is no assassination, just a police officer protecting himself. The unfortunate part of this story is the pointless racial protests.

    Most people would take these protestors a little more serious if they stood up for innocent victims. Such as the little girl that was shot in the head when sitting on her grandpa’s lap, kids playing in the park, or just simply cleaning up urban crimes. Maybe these protestors should change the slogan on their shirt from “I can’t breathe” to “I would still be breathing, if I complied”.

  • WI Family of 6

    I am very happy to see the comments in support of the decision and of officer Manney. It was the correct decision. People have twisted the facts on this case and others in order to start a race war. None of the current events in our country had anything to do with race. Those that choose to to create a spark by altering the actual events should be held accountable for their actions as well.

  • Derrick

    He wasn’t fired for the shooting, he was fired for the events that led up to the shooting. He should never be a cop again.

  • Citizen151

    Use of force is a responsibility, not a right. This is where the cops and the courts get it wrong in their interpretation of the law. If an officers training is so inept that the officer goes from baton ( a.k.a. Deadly weapon) straight to firearm without considering the pepper spray as an interim, then he was improperly trained . The morale of this story is “never bring a baton to a gunfight.” But dontre didn’t, the officer did. How was the officer disarmed so quickly of his baton by a person smaller than him? Then the morale is “Don’t use your baton during an illegal search unless you intend to arm the suspect in the process to justify the escalation to deadly firearm force”. Dontre was “unarmed” and being attacked by an officer with a “deadly weapon” (the baton) during an illegal pat down. he died defending himself from a trained, seasoned officer who was so inept with the use of his firearm that he emptied the clip in an afternoon crowd instead of using a disabling shot to the arm holding the baton or leg to disable his movement. Who cares how fast you can empty a S&W 40mm of 14 rounds? That fact brought up by the DA is irrelevant. All this shows is officers are trained that “if you are going to use deadly force” (remember, the officer started with the deadly weapon of a baton during an illegal search) it’s better to kill the suspect rather then disable him, as disabling vs. murder costs the community more in lawsuits and long term care of the victim. A dead guy has a harder time suing the municipality then a disabled one. Justice truly means “just us” with the officers, DA, and judges on one side in Milwaukee county versus the population on the other. Here’s a thought. Why not restrict an officer to no more than 5 bullets in hiss firearm? Then he has to be strategic with his shot selection instead of this overkill.

    • Chaos78

      Yeah, a baton isn’t a deadly weapon. It’s only a folcrome with a little weight on top (kinda like a hammer) but denser. So I guess if some one was coming at me… I guess I’ll just let them hit me and go on my way. Flipping idiot

  • Sheila Moyet

    I hope the media realizes that by pounding this at us constantly is only fueling the fire. If there are any shootings (God forbid), the media can be held responsible. Reporting the news is fine, but constantly bombarding us with this is just making the situation worse.

  • ML

    For those bringing up the fact that white people being killed by black people don’t receive the same level of media attention…most (certainly not all) of those cases don’t NEED the media attention for justice to be served. Nobody has to put up a fight. The value of that person’s life is not questioned. Historically, the same has not been true for black victims of white offenders. These cases get so much attention because chances of justice being served without that level of attention are disgustingly lower. Whether people agree on the ruling or not it cannot be ignored that the officer was at fault. As a veteran officer who has undoubtedly been trained to respond to far more dangerous situations, he should have handled the situation differently INITIALLY. The events that transpired after that initial interaction were a result of his own lack of ability to follow protocol that he should have been well-versed in as a veteran officer. He was WRONG and he should have been disciplined. This country has a way of making things go away for the right people. Had this family not forced people to pay attention, there’s a good chance that that’s exactly what would have happened here. This would have simply gone away. Is that really how we want things to work? If so, where does it stop?

  • Truthhurts

    People need to remember this incident occurred because of actions not race, the media needs to stop giving attention to this story and the protesters, it gives them unwarranted credibility. Why don’t the newscasters asking questions of the so-called community organizers ask them where they are from, what organization they represent. Ask the family where they were while their dear family member was struggling with mental illness. There is such a thing as a third-party petition in Wisconsin in order to get help for people

  • truth

    Tell me why Hamilton was sleeping in the park instead of at home with his concerned family, why weren’t they monitoring him and making sure he had his medication? And why does everyone keep saying that Officer Manney shot an unarmed man, when in fact according to witnesses Hamilton had the officers baton and was striking him. This is not an unarmed person. And officers are trained to shoot until the threat ceases, not until their clip is empty. All the rounds that struck hamilton were not fatal, and no one knows when the fatal shots were fired. I would also like to know why when a white person uses the N-word they are racist, but yesterday the Hamilton family called the police pigs during their interview at the Federal Courthouse and it was all right. As for the news media, why is it that all they can say is that hamilton was shot 14 times, over and over. Chisholm explained it in his news conference and officer Manney .followed proper training and procedure.

  • tammy

    I knew him(victim) personally n I don’t believe he would have did this without reason just think u sleep n somebody comes touching u Your going to react period I believe he was somewhat in shock he was shot 11 times cmon now

  • Facts

    Any officer who is threaten has a right to defend themselves!!! I support the Police always will!! Has anyone visited the memorial for the police who died in the line of duty to protect us or who were gunned down for reason??Majority of crimes are committed by Blacks!! They just don’t want to be held accountable for their actions/crimes!! Their rioting / destruction proves just how uncivilized they are!!!Where are the parents?? What are they teaching their kids?? The Parents/ black caucus enjoy playing the race card when blacks commit crimes. They quote Jesse Jackson ask where
    His law abiding son resides! Sharpton should be in jail! The federal judge in N ew Orleans wrote a scathing report on holter & his DOJ on their conduct!! Obama should be impeached/ in jail for lying to Americans , inciting riots,scandals disregard for beheading of Americans making joke of Isis genocide etc
    Obama is a disgrace incompetent and should be kicked out of office. No doubt he is the worst president in history and should be stripped of the noble peace prize . This is a person who has no soul. Poor excuse for a human being !!

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