Family upset with pace of police investigation
- Article by: DINESH RAMDE
- Associated Press
- June 30, 2014 - 6:50 PM
MILWAUKEE — Two months after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed a man in a downtown park, the victim's family criticized the pace of the investigation, saying authorities refused to answer their phone calls or even return the victim's wallet.
The family's attorneys released a statement Monday saying the family is being ignored — they're not being told the status of the investigation, they've been given no sense of when it will wrap up and they don't even know the name of the officer who killed Dontre Hamilton.
"This reflects an overall uncaring attitude by (the state Department of Criminal Investigation) to the grief that Dontre Hamilton's family continues to experience," the statement said.
Hamilton, 31, was sleeping in a park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30. A police officer checked on him and patted him down. A struggle ensued, and the officer shot Hamilton as many as 10 times.
Police Chief Ed Flynn told reporters a few hours later that the officer fired after Hamilton grabbed the officer's wooden baton and struck the officer in the head, injuring him.
The family maintained that Hamilton was a peaceful man who, despite having a history of mental illness, never posed a threat to anyone.
A barista watched the latter part of the struggle unfold from the open-air cafe where she was working about 10 yards away. Kelly Brandmeyer told The Associated Press the officer didn't appear in imminent danger when he opened fire. She said she averted her eyes right before the officer shot, and as she counted 10 shots she wondered why the officer needed to fire so many times.
The investigation is the first since the state passed a new law mandating that a police-involved shooting be investigated by an outside agency. The Department of Criminal Investigation, a part of the state Department of Justice, is leading the investigation.
Milwaukee police spokesman Mark Stanmeyer referred questions to the Department of Criminal Investigation. He said the officer involved remains on administrative duty.
Dana Brueck, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said authorities are communicating with the family to the extent possible during an ongoing investigation. She also noted that the amount of time required to investigate a shooting varies with its complexity.
"This particular incident, having occurred in the middle of the day in downtown Milwaukee, required interviews with dozens of possible witnesses," she said in an email. "Naturally we're sympathetic to the family's concerns and will return personal items of evidence as soon as possible."
© 2016 Star Tribune