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I wanted Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm to charge fired police officer Christopher Manney for the shooting Dontre Hamilton.
I didn’t know what he should be charged with, but I wanted it to be something.
Here’s what I think happened. There was a confrontation between Manney and Hamilton and they tussled and Manney thought he was going to get hurt and he panicked. He fired into Hamilton 14 times. That’s a lot of shots.
I don’t have solid evidence to support my belief, but that’s what I think probably happened.
Hamilton died and a short time later Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney, not for the shooting but because the officer didn’t follow procedures for dealing with emotionally disturbed people.
The story of shooting of a black man by a white cop took on added steam because of similar incidents in Ferguson, New York and Cleveland. The temperature in the black community was starting to boil.
Milwaukee had gatherings at Red Arrow Park, the site of the shooting. Marches took place and generally speaking the police kept the march route open and made sure nobody, on either side, got hurt.
Television stations sent cameras and reporters to every march and every rally. TV loves this kind of stuff and the video they used made the marches seem a lot bigger than they were.
But three days before Christmas Chisholm announced that he was not going to file charges, He had examined the evidence and had looked at the reports from the experts he hired.
And what all of that showed wasn’t that Manney was innocent in this whole thing. What it showed was there was not enough evidence to get a conviction.
I may be in a minority here, but I am one of the people who wanted Manney charged but ended up admiring Chisholm for his decision.
The easy thing politically to do would have been to charge Manney. Sure, the police union would have raised a stink, but they are already raising a stink because Manney was fired. Right wing talk radio would have been angry, but they don’t like Chisholm anyway.
People like me and like Hamilton’s friends and families would have rushed to Chisholm’s defense and admired him for "doing what’s right" and "seeking justice."
Although Chisholm is elected he stood stern here against the winds blowing around his head. The district attorney in Milwaukee has prosecuted officers before for shooting citizens and many officers have been prosecuted by Chisholm and his predecessor Mike McCann.
We have all been witness to the flamboyant prosecutors in other places, where they ride the publicity to big news conferences and loud and outrageous claims of "searching for justice" as they file charges that often end up in nothing happening.
Even though I wish Chisholm had decided another way I’m glad that we have a district attorney who works to be a professional prosecutor in spite of political pressures. It’s OK to disagree with his decision and it’s OK to wish it had gone another way.
What’s not OK is to criticize his motives or character.
Instead we should be thankful that actions like this are not political decisions, but decisions based on evidence and are a profile in courage.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.