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Prosecutors in Milwaukee announced Monday that former police officer Chris Manney will not face charges for the shooting death of unarmed black man Dontre Hamilton. Manney shot 31-year-old Hamilton 14 times after confronting him while he was sleeping on a Milwaukee park bench on April 30.
The white officer was fired from the police force, but prosecutors have ruled that he acted in self-defense when shooting Hamilton. Manney claimed that he shot Hamilton after the man grabbed his baton and struck him.
"Officer Manney's actions were reasonable and justified considering the threat. While truly an unfortunate situation, there simply was no other option available," said Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello.
Controversy has surrounded Hamilton's death, as conflicting accounts of what occurred have emerged. Nine witnesses testified that they saw the officer continue to shoot at Hamilton once he had fallen to the ground, but the one witness nearest to the event has said that Manney stopped shooting once Hamilton was down. A county medical examiner's autopsy report showed that the officer shot Hamilton more than once at a downward trajectory and once from behind.
Following the local prosecutors decision, the Department of Justice announced that a federal investigation would be launched into the Hamilton's death.
Manney was fired not for shooting Hamilton, but for patting him down. The action was deemed an illegal pat down of a mentally ill person. Hamilton reportedly had been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
On Monday, Hamilton's brother Nathaniel gave an emotional speech in response to the ruling.
"We're not going to let it pass. We're not going to turn our back… We must wake the people up," he said. Of his brother's death, Nathaniel said that the officer "killed him with hate. He killed him with intent… The whole system has a mental problem."
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