A Milwaukee police officer who was fired after he fatally shot a black man diagnosed with schizophrenia will not face federal civil rights charges, the Justice Department announced Tuesday, citing "insufficient evidence."
Last December, local prosecutors also declined to press charges against former cop Christopher Manney in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton. Hamilton, who family says was being treated for schizophrenia but was nonviolent, was shot 14 times by Manney, who was investigating claims about a person sleeping in a park downtown. Manney was fired from the Police Department, with officials saying that he violated protocol in his patdown of Hamilton before the shooting, as well as in his use of force.
Hamilton's family was told of the DOJ decision in a meeting with federal officials Tuesday morning. The department said that its "comprehensive and independent review of the evidence" included "reviewing all information form the state investigation, reviewing all recorded interviews, consulting with the Milwaukee County medical examiner and reviewing the transcripts from Manney's termination hearing by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission," the Huffington Post notes.
"Under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, prosecutors must establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a law-enforcement officer willfully deprived an individual of a constitutional right. To establish willfulness, federal authorities must show that the officer acted with the deliberate and specific intent to do something the law forbids. This is the highest standard of intent imposed by law," the DOJ's statement read.
"Mistake, misperception, negligence or poor judgment are not sufficient to establish a federal criminal civil rights violation," the DOJ added.
The decision, the DOJ stated, "is limited strictly to an application of the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statute; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the incident that led to Hamilton’s death."
Read the full statement at the Department of Justice.