“Justice delayed is justice denied.” That’s the way Nate Hamilton described the seven months his family has waited since it was announced the U.S. Justice Department was launching a federal investigation into the death of his brother, Dontre. Dontre Hamilton was gunned down at Red Arrow Park in April of 2014 by a Milwaukee police officer who later lost his job for his actions. In order to keep the pressure on the federal inquiry, the Hamilton family signed a letter along with Senator Tammy Baldwin and Representative Gwen Moore asking why it is taking so long to receive the results.
“Attorney General Lynch,
We write to express our concern about the slow pace of the federal review of potential civil rights violations in the officer-involved shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, and federal “pattern and practice” review of the Milwaukee Police Department. We respectfully encourage the Department of Justice to expedite these reviews and to provide the Hamilton family with an update on the status of its efforts around Dontre’s death.
It has been more than fourteen months since that tragedy occurred. It has been more than six months since Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm declined to file charges against Office Christopher Manney in relation to the shooting and U.S. Attorney Jim Santelle announced a federal review of the case. However, according to the Hamilton family, they have not received any updates as to the status of this review.
Furthermore, U.S. Attorney Santelle began to solicit information from members of the Milwaukee community as early as October 2012 in support of a potential “pattern and practice” investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department. This announcement came after the July 2011 in-custody death of Derek Williams, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide. While we understand that the Justice Department continues to solicit community complaints about the conduct of the Milwaukee Police Department, we share the concern and frustration of the Milwaukee community with the pace of this review.
We continue to hear from Milwaukee constituents who are fearful and distrustful of law enforcement, particularly after the deaths of Derek Williams and Dontre Hamilton. We believe tangible progress on these federal investigations will help to restore trust between the Milwaukee Police Department and the broader community and can lead to the implementation of policies and practices that will better protect our officers and better serve the people of Milwaukee.
Law enforcement personnel have extremely difficult jobs and they put their lives on the line every day to help keep our communities safe. In Milwaukee, there has been an alarming increase in violence in recent months and, now more than ever, we must ensure that there is trust between police and the people they serve to help reduce crime and strengthen this community.
Thank you again for your attention to this matter, and we look forward to working with you going forward.
Representative Gwen Moore
Senator Tammy Baldwin”
It was also announced on Tuesday that a Milwaukee County Board committee, voted 5-0 on July 21st to establish a task force to organize a memorial for Dontre Hamilton. This endless wait renders emotional hardship on the Hamilton family. Our question to the Feds (who are unavailable for comment) is, “Hey, what’s the holdup?”