Milwaukee officials approved a $2.3 million payout for the family of a mentally ill black man who was fatally shot in a 2014 confrontation with a white police officer.

The Milwaukee Common Council gave its approval to settle a lawsuit brought by the family of Dontre Hamilton, who had been sleeping in a downtown Milwaukee park when Officer Christopher Manney approached him.

Dontre Hamilton and Christopher Manney

Dontre Hamilton (left) and fired Milwaukee Police officer Christopher Manney. Manney fired 14 shots at Hamilton at Red Arrow Park on April 30, 2014. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Manney over the incident.

One alderman abstained, saying he didn’t believe Manney did anything wrong.

Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to sign off on the settlement within the next 10 days, spokeswoman Jodie Tabak said.

Manney said Hamilton attacked him as he frisked him for weapons and that he shot the 31-year-old 14 times in self-defence.

Manney said Hamilton grabbed his police baton, prompting him to open fire.

The attorneys for Hamilton’s son said in a statement that they plan to put the settlement money in a fund for him to receive when he becomes an adult.

The statement goes on to say Hamilton’s family still wants Manney to face criminal charges if additional evidence in the case surfaces.

‘We still want justice,’ Dameion Perkins said at the news conference. ‘And receiving a settlement is not justice.’

Police Chief Edward Flynn said at the time that Manney’s pat-down wasn’t necessary, and he fired Manney for failing to follow department rules.

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Alderman Bob Donovan abstained from voting.

‘For me to vote in favor of this, I’d feel that somehow I would be saying, and I would be contributing to the belief, that officer Manney did something wrong,’ he said.

The Milwaukee County district attorney did not charge Manney in the death, and the US Justice Department decided against pursuing any civil rights charges. The federal agency cited eyewitness accounts, physical evidence, Manney’s testimony and input from use-of-force experts.

Since Hamilton’s death, his mother, Maria Hamilton, and two brothers Nate Hamilton and Dameion Perkins, have been outspoken activists in the community, helping organize protests and successfully lobbying the mayor to better train police officers dealing with the mentally ill.

‘We don’t forgive the city of Milwaukee,’ Nate Hamilton said during a tearful news conference in the park where his brother was killed. ‘This settlement doesn’t make us sleep better at night.’

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The city also has paid $5 million to be divided among 74 black residents who claimed police illegally strip-searched them between 2008 and 2012.

 

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