Supporters of Hamilton, killed by Milwaukee cop, rally in Chicago

Relatives and other supporters of Dontre Hamilton, killed by a Milwaukee police officer in Red Arrow Park in April, attended a Saturday rally in Chicago with the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jackson said he will continue to draw attention to Hamilton’s death and to what he and other critics say is a pattern of injustice.

“We cannot stand by and let this happen without saying something,” the civil rights leader told a crowd of about 200 people during a rally at his Rainbow PUSH Coalition Headquarters in Chicago.

Hamilton was fatally shot during an altercation that began when Officer Christopher Manney roused him from sleep in the downtown park. During a confrontation, Hamilton gained control of Manney’s baton and hit him. Manney then shot Hamilton 14 times. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm on Monday deemed the shooting justifiable self-defense.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney in October. The reason was not Manney’s use of force, but because he did not follow department rules in the moments leading up to the shooting and conducted what the chief termed an “out of policy pat-down.” The decision was described as unprecedented by the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, the union that represents officers. The union’s position is that Manney was doing his job properly.

Hamilton, 31, suffered from schizophrenia.

His parents, two brothers and other relatives joined Jackson at Saturday’s rally in hopes of bringing more widespread attention to the case.

“Dontre was a loving and concerned individual who didn’t deserve to die,” said his brother, Nate Hamilton.

Jackson pledged to “escalate this battle” by seeking federal intervention, while also noting that any protests should be peaceful and that he doesn’t support violence. He called the shooting deaths of two police officers a week ago in New York a tragedy.

U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle has said the U.S. Department of Justice would review the Hamilton case individually to determine whether federal civil rights laws were violated. Santelle’s statement did not address the possibility of a broader review of the Police Department, which has been requested by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Milwaukee Democrat.

Such a review, known as a pattern-and-practice investigation, could encompass the events surrounding the deaths of Hamilton and of Derek Williams, who died after gasping for breath and begging for help in the back of a squad car in 2011; illegal body cavity searches; the way police treated the mother of Darius Simmons, a black 13-year-old, after he was killed by a white neighbor; and the on-duty rape of a north side woman by then-Officer Ladmarald Cates, who had been investigated for breaking the law five times before.

In 2011, federal officials began a preliminary review of whether the U.S. Department of Justice should undertake a pattern-and-practice investigation in Milwaukee. But the department has not disclosed the preliminary review’s status, leading many to believe it has ended.

That does not mean it could not be reconsidered in the future.

Jackson said he plans to travel to Milwaukee to hold a march and protest, and to continue pressing police and lawmakers for change. Jackson didn’t say when those events would take place, but said it would be “soon.”

“We want to stop all killing,” Jackson said.

A Milwaukee police spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Saturday.

In response to a push from Hamilton’s family, Milwaukee is ramping up mental health training for all 1,867 police officers in the city. All will now participate in 40 hours of training via a Crisis Intervention Team program, considered the gold standard.