US & Canada

Milwaukee shooting: Federal probe for Dontre Hamilton death

Protest led by Dontre Hamilton's family, Milwaukee, 22 December 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Dontre Hamilton's relatives led a protest against the decision not to charge the officer who shot him

The US justice department says it will review the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in April in Milwaukee.

The decision came after a local prosecutor said he would not bring charges against the officer.

He ruled that Christopher Manney had acted in self-defence when confronted in a park by Dontre Hamilton.

The launch of the federal investigation follows protests across the US over the deaths of two other black men.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Dontre Hamilton in an undated photo

In both cases grand juries decided not to indict white police officers.

One of the incidents occurred in New York, where Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for the city to heal after the subsequent fatal shooting of two police officers led to controversy over his role.

In Milwaukee, Mr Hamilton's family had reacted with anger to the decision by County District Attorney John Chisholm not to charge Mr Manney, and appealed for peaceful protests.

Mr Hamilton was shot after workers at a Starbucks cafe called police to complain about him sleeping in a park.

According to Mr Manney, Mr Hamilton resisted arrest when he tried to frisk him, took the officer's baton and hit Mr Manney on the neck with it after the two exchanged punches.

Mr Manney then shot him 14 times, saying later that he feared for his safety.

Mr Hamilton's family said he had suffered from schizophrenia and had recently stopped taking his medicine.

His death triggered a series of protests in Milwaukee and Mr Manney was dismissed over the incident - a decision the former officer has appealed against.

Image copyright AP
Image caption John Chisolm demonstrated bullet trajectory at a news conference
Image copyright AP
Image caption Dontre Hamilton's brother, Dameion Perkins, cries on the steps of the federal courthouse in Milwaukee

Explaining his decision in a written statement, Mr Chisholm said: "Officer Manney's use of force in this incident was justified self-defense and that defense cannot be reasonably overcome to establish a basis to charge Officer Manney with a crime."

The federal review will seek to determine whether there was any violation of civil rights law.

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