MILWAUKEE (AP) — The family of a man killed by a Milwaukee police officer plans to mark the anniversary of his death Thursday with a march to the downtown park where he was shot, where they will have food, face painting, a balloon launch and a rally to celebrate his life.
“We’ve been trying to be as positive as possible,” said Nate Hamilton, brother of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton, who was fatally shot by officer Christopher Manney on April 30, 2014. “We haven’t been trying to let our anger dictate what we do and how we act.”
It comes as Baltimore recovers from rioting and looting after the funeral on Monday of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died from a spinal-cord injury while in police custody.
Nate Hamilton said his family has been concentrating on positive responses, such as helping persuade the city to ensure all police officers are fully trained to deal with the mentally ill by 2018. Dontre Hamilton’s family has said he suffered from schizophrenia but was not violent.
Hamilton’s mother has started a support group for mothers whose children have died in police encounters, and plans a “Million Moms” march in Washington over Mother’s Day weekend.
Several rallies and marches have been held in Milwaukee for Dontre Hamilton since his death, all of them peaceful.
“I think you catch more bees with honey than vinegar,” Nate Hamilton said.
According to Manney’s account, Hamilton, who was black, grabbed the officer’s baton and attacked him with it, and the officer opened fire. He shot Hamilton 14 times.
Chief Edward Flynn later fired Manney because he said the officer improperly started an unwarranted pat-down of Hamilton. A panel of police commissioners agreed with Flynn’s decision last month. Manney’s attorney says he plans to appeal in court.
Federal investigators are reviewing Hamilton’s shooting to determine if Manney violated U.S. civil rights laws. The family is also considering filing a civil lawsuit but is waiting for the federal investigation to finish, according to Jon Safran, an attorney for the Hamilton family.