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Milwaukee officer won't face charges for killing mentally ill man

Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill man, was shot and killed by a police officer after Starbucks employees complained about his sleeping in a Milwaukee park.

By Frances Burns

MILWAUKEE, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- A Milwaukee police officer who was dismissed for shooting a mentally ill man sleeping in a park won't face criminal charges, a prosecutor said Monday.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm called the death of Dontre Hamilton, 31, a "tragic incident." But he said Christopher Manney used lethal force in "justifiable self-defense."

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Manney responded to a complaint April 30 from Starbucks employees about a man sleeping in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee, an internal investigation found. Two police officers had already come by twice and determined Hamilton was breaking no laws when Manney found the call on his voice mail.

When Manney began a pat-down search, Hamilton resisted. The scuffle escalated, with Manney reporting that Hamilton got hold of his baton.

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Manney shot Hamilton 14 times. Emanuel Kapelsohn, an expert on police use of force involved in the investigation, concluded Manney had been attacked with a deadly weapon and his decision to shoot was justified, Chisholm said.

"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." Kapelsohn said.

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Manney was eventually fired, the first Milwaukee police officer in almost a half century to lose his job over excessive use of force. He has appealed the dismissal and has also applied for disability retirement, saying he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the shooting.

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Police officials said Manney was fired for violations of procedures before he used his gun, not for the shooting itself.

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