(Reuters) – A former Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man was justified in using force and will not be charged, the district attorney said on Monday, two days after more than 70 demonstrators calling for justice in the case were arrested.
Christopher Manney, who was fired from the Milwaukee police force, was acting in self defense when he shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times during a struggle in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee on April 30, Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm said in a statement.
Peaceful protests had been occurring regularly in Milwaukee since the incident but none with as many arrests as on Friday, when 74 people were taken into custody after their evening demonstration spilled onto a major freeway, stopping traffic during rush hour.
The demonstration was the latest of several against police violence across the country following recent cases where unarmed black men were killed by white police officers.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn announced the firing of Manney on Oct. 15. He said Manney acted without malice but failed to follow police policies when addressing mentally ill people.
Manney told investigators that he found Hamilton, who had a history of mental illness, lying on the ground the park. After Hamilton stood up, a physical altercation between him and the officer ensued, according to the statement Manney gave police.
During the struggle, Hamilton took Manney’s baton away and hit him in the neck with it, according to Manney’s statement. Manney then drew his weapon and shot Hamilton 14 times, according to police.
“He feared Hamilton would attack him with the baton and that he ‘would be dead’ as a result,” the statement said.
Local media reported that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker granted a request by local law enforcement officials to call up and deploy National Guard troops in the city if protests become violent.
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