Witness Tells Different Story About Wednesday’s MPD Killing of Man at Red Arrow Park

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This story was submitted to Occupy Riverwest by guest writer Kelly R. Brandmeyer. Kelly, while working at the Starbucks in Red Arrow Park, was an eyewitness to the killing of Dontre Hamilton by a Milwaukee Police Department officer on Wednesday. After reading this account it seems there are more questions than answers in the death of Hamilton:

Even though this only happened three days ago, I’ve recounted this story more times than I can count. But that’s okay, because this is a story that needs telling. This story has been told in multiple places, multiple times and almost always slightly different than how I actually remember it happening. This story will not just be a retelling, but a discussion, and a realization of what is happening to not just this city, but to our American society on the whole.

This story is about Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old black man that lived in the Milwaukee area. I didn’t know him before this incident, but it’s clear to me that his passing leaves many friends and family in its devastating wake. On Wednesday, April 30th, Dontre lost his life in an event that was totally unnecessary and preventable.

I work as a barista at Starbucks, Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee. I was working that Wednesday from 12-7:30pm, and there was nothing to indicate that this day would be out of the ordinary. Our current building is being renovated, so we were serving coffee out of a mobile café trailer designed by Starbucks.

Around 1pm, my coworker and I noticed a man sleeping fairly close to where we have set up shop. He lay sleeping next to the big, stone red arrow: the landmark and namesake of the park. As per Starbucks policy, if we are uncertain or uncomfortable around a sleeping individual (or somebody that may be passed out), we are to call a non-emergency line to prevent any potential conflict – and that is precisely what was done.

Memorial set up where Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by a Milwaukee Police officer Thursday.

Memorial set up where Dontre Hamilton was shot and killed by a Milwaukee Police officer Thursday.

A short while later, I took my first break of the day. I sat outside of the trailer, on a bench that was behind the trailer and the arrow. I had full view of Dontre merely sleeping underneath the arrow. To be clear, I never saw Dontre get up, walk around, panhandle, or even speak to anyone. A few minutes later, two officers approached him on foot to check him out. I could see them speaking with Dontre, who sat up to address and answer their questions. From the body language of both parties, nothing seemed out of place, nobody was tense, things were seemingly frictionless. It was probably a five-minute conversation, then the officers walked away. They didn’t escort him out or forcibly move him. To me, this indicated that there was no problem, no issue, and that there was no conflict here.

Once my break was over (approximately ten minutes), I walked back inside the trailer. I immediately was told by my coworker that they had called the non-emergency line a second time because Dontre was still there. At this moment, I was extremely frustrated with this. It was so obvious to me that Dontre was doing nothing illegal by being there, so calling the cops was only a waste of their time and resources. In that moment, I was heated enough to make a comment to my coworker about their persistence in this issue – I totally disagreed with heavy-handedly removing people that just want a place to exist.

About five or so minutes later, the same two officers approached our trailer café and asked if we were the ones calling them. My coworker informed them that it was them who called, and that they were worried about the presence of Dontre so close to our café, condiment bar, and the possible negative impact on the business. The officers informed them that Dontre was doing nothing illegal, there was nothing for them to enforce, and that we should stop calling. My coworker, obviously unsatisfied with the result, reluctantly let the issue drop. After that, there was some minor squabbling among ourselves because I didn’t like the way the issue was dealt with. I’m not a believer in removing things from my environment just because I’m uncomfortable with it, especially if we’re talking about another human being – and doubly especially for one that is doing absolutely nothing to anyone else.

I was wholly caught off guard for what would occur next. I didn’t see the entire event unfold. I was only alerted to the presence of another officer, after trouble had already started.

Around 3:30pm, I heard a man yelling something to the effect of “HEY!”, and then I moved to the window to see what was happening. At that moment, I saw a white police officer standing off against Dontre, who was holding the officer’s own baton in a defensive posture against said officer. I didn’t see the beginning of the fight or how it broke out, but I never once saw Dontre strike the officer with the baton. Again, I never witnessed the baton in Dontre’s hand make contact with the officer. I’ve seen it reported that Dontre struck the officer’s head repeatedly with the baton—and it may have happened near the beginning of the fight—but I never saw it and neither did my coworker. During this fight, I hear my coworker exclaim “That’s Chris,” who is our beat cop for the area. He is better known among the employees that have been at that location for longer.

Chris, currently unarmed since he lost his baton, lunged at Dontre to retrieve his weapon but missed. I never witnessed Dontre attack Chris. Dontre only reacted to Chris’ lunge, in what appeared to be, a purely defensive way. After missing, Chris was frozen for a second, then reached down for his side arm. When he pulled this weapon out, I had a sickly feeling about what was going to happen next. Chris didn’t say anything to Dontre.  Nothing like “calm down”, or “back away”, or anything of the sort, with his brandished firearm. He had his gun pointed at Dontre from about 10 feet away for a couple seconds.  That’s when I heard the shots.

crime scene

I counted the shots as they happened. I guess I expected Chris to just disable him, so I didn’t know how many shots to expect. I counted 3…then 5…then 7…then 10 all in very quick succession. Surely a trained police officer could have disabled Dontre without putting 10 bullets into him. With the rapid, rhythmic fire, there was no way Chris was stopping to check if Dontre was still alive. Count to 10 in your head in a fast-paced, rhythmic manner and ask yourself if you’re shooting to kill. While my cynical side knew what was going to happen to Dontre and compelled me to turn away, my coworker didn’t. They saw the whole thing play out. They will tell you the same thing about how once that gun was pulled out, it was Dontre’s end.

So here we are, a few days later, still wondering how something like that could happen. Why is it that two officers previously were able to arrive on the scene, talk to Dontre, establish that nothing was wrong or required their intervention then be able to leave peacefully? I didn’t get the name of those two officers, but I wish I could tell them that I appreciate them for doing their job as a protector of the people involved that day.

I still have questions: Why was Chris there? Was he called out to triple-check the situation since there were two previous calls in the area? Also, why didn’t he come talk to my coworker or me first? I don’t understand why we weren’t alerted to his presence. Maybe that’s not our right, or that we are not owed that from a police officer on duty, but we are the ones that made the call to begin with.

Why did Chris not say something to Dontre to try to diffuse the situation? The situation went from baton to a firearm. Was there no other option to subdue Dontre? He didn’t even try using his words before pulling out a gun. Why didn’t he just try to disable Dontre? I never saw where the officer shot, but my coworker told me he started at the ribcage and moved upward. If that’s true, why did it take 10+ shots?

These seem like reasonable questions that anyone not familiar with police protocol would ask. My coworker is the one who recognized that it was Chris, and once I realized who that was, I felt horrible. In asking myself these questions, it dawned on me that I had experienced something unsavory with this particular officer before.

It was November of 2013, and I had just recently transferred to the Red Arrow Park Starbucks. Since our building is connected to a park building, some of the facilities are actually owned by the city (such as the bathrooms). We often have people coming in to warm themselves by the fireplace in our store – including homeless people. A few of them try to do illegal substances in the bathrooms where they think we can’t do anything about it, but we are often calling authorities when there is any kind of illegal activities going on in our bathroom. On one such evening when a call was made, Chris and another officer reported to the scene. As Chris went to move out any non-paying customers, I made a comment about how homeless people were just trying to keep warm and weren’t a problem.  I felt bad that he was kicking them out for no reason.  He responded with something along the lines of how the people in that position are homeless by their own doing and are now laying in the bed they’ve made.

That isn’t a direct quote. I don’t remember exactly what was said, as at the time I didn’t think I’d need to recount it as something relevant. I just remember getting a dark vibe from Chris that night.

I realize my anecdotal evidence alone doesn’t prove anything about the incident last Wednesday, but it makes me skeptical. It gives me enough to reasonably question it. With all of these factors combined, I ask myself if it was someone who was looking for a fight, if it was someone looking to “clear out the trash”.

We capture more cases of police brutality now than ever. I only learned recently that Dontre suffered from mental illness, specifically schizophrenia. Dontre had been awake for days before the incident Wednesday and had been walking a long distance before finally resting underneath our arrow at Red Arrow Park. He was sleeping because he was exhausted, and he was only waiting for a ride from his brother.

It’s extremely hard to speculate about a police officer trying to do his/her job, but this isn’t the first case of this happening. In 2011, Fullerton police officers beat a schizophrenic man named Kelly Thomas so badly that he died from his injuries. Despite extensive video evidence from multiple sources, the police officer involved was acquitted.

This is an extremely similar case: a man with schizophrenia meets an untimely end, with no clear answer as to what provoked the situation or why it was allowed to progress to the state it did. The ACLU made a statement inferring that the DA that was in charge of the case regarding Kelly Thomas was incapable of impartially handling it. In Wisconsin, there is a new law requiring two outside agencies, aside from the DA, to investigate a case when there is a shooting involving a police officer. This may aid the impartiality that can exist in a department the ACLU cited, but this is the first case that the new law has been applied to. I gave a statement to the DA and a table-full of agency heads, but I hope it was worth something. I hope this is different than the case with Kelly Thomas, where somebody ended up dead and the department scrambled to protect their own.

I’ve seen and read some terrible things regarding Dontre’s case when discussing it with people. There has been a lot of support for him, but also a lot of opinions from people that don’t fully understand the story or they’ve never had a friend or loved one with a mental illness. They make the assumption that the officer approached the situation with a clear head, therefore not making a mistake. Why do we assume that the victim deserved their fate if they ended up dead in a confrontation with a police officer?

At the end of the day, what were Dontre’s crimes? He was a man taking a rest in a public park on a warm afternoon. He was doing nothing wrong. This is reinforced by the fact that TWO officers before were able to communicate and check him out without issue. So what happened the third time? How many things could have happened differently? What he was doing was not illegal. Was Chris incapable or unable of handling this situation differently?  Or has this become a place where we award mental illness with the death penalty?

A Message for DONTRE from Occupy Riverwest on Vimeo.

119 thoughts on “Witness Tells Different Story About Wednesday’s MPD Killing of Man at Red Arrow Park

  1. Denise Hamilton

    I have a mentally ill brother, I love in Los Angeles. These police people don’t care about nobody, I understand about the life of the police but if you do right you don’t have to worry.
    You know when a person have mental illness.
    You suppose to be trained police but all they do is shoot first and ask questions later.
    That police officer need to be fired, but just like the Rodney King case, he will get off.
    WAtchout mentally Ill people, young black people and young people. They are after you.

    1. Mike Kaiser

      Watch out black people for your own…I think if you look at the statistics you will find that black people are shooting themselves at a far greater rate than white police officers are. I’m not saying there are not racist white officers, but I think the threat from them pales in comparison to the threat coming from within the black community. Both issues should be addressed, but it is time the black community looked inward to solve some of the problems All people should be held accountable for their actions, but I think you should start with who is killing the most first and foremost. If you had a riot for every black person shot unjustifiably by another black person, you would not have a community left.

      1. Mike Kaiser

        Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

        Martin Luther King, Jr.

        1. Seekndatruth

          It’s a fact that blacks kill blacks more often than police kill blacks, the issue is that blacks are prosecuted for their crimes and the cops get off for their’s, even if wrong doing on their part is discovered. And that’s why we are marching in the streets, because police are getting away with murder.

      2. Jennifer King

        “The 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, a compilation of annual crime statistics, also shows similar data: 83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders; 90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders; 14 percent of white victims were killed by black offenders; and 7.6 percent of black victims were killed by white offenders… a ProPublica analysis of federal data from 2010 to 2012 found young black males were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.” Citing the statistics for blacks without including those for whites does not provide the complete context. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/11/25/giulianis-claim-that-93-percent-of-blacks-are-killed-by-other-blacks/

      3. Highlife

        So what? Violent crime tends to happen among people that know each other or live near each other. White people are murdered by other white people at a far higher rate than than they are killed by police or by members of other ethnic communities. Nobody tells the white community to “look inward” to solve the vast majority of firearm deaths in the US.

        The “black-on-black” crime argument is a red herring. A canard raised by those who have no capacity for critical thought.

      4. Nicole

        So your justification for this is “what about black on black crime?” Seriously? You DO know that when a person of color kills another person of color, there ARE consequences. There IS jail time. As there should be. So comparing that with police brutality and the alarming rate with which there are NO consequences when a person of color is killed, is extremely problematic and wrong. You are wrong. Period.

      5. Mike

        That isn’t the issue that has people outraged. Police shootings are relatively rare in any community. The thing that has the black community outraged is the fact that police officers can kill Black citizens without fear any legal repercussions.

      6. Miles Maker

        These kinds of statements don’t work anymore Mike, because they’re two different issues altogether and we all see right past it. What I will credit you for is comparing police murder to average street thug murder, but we EXPECT not to be killed by law enforcement and that is the primary difference. Law enforcement kills and gets away with it while other murderers are caught and convicted with zeal. That’s the difference.

        We are also very active about Black on Black crime–you wouldn’t know, because you don’t care. You;re just here to make a point, but if you simply do a little research you’ll see the participation and collaboration among community leaders to address these things. We protest publicly against public officials.

        What’s telling about your perspective is your failure to address accountability–only point to something else going on as if that makes it okay for cops to shoot people with excessive force. Police should be accountable, should they they not? Street thugs are not–or maybe they’re the same as cops?

        Hm. You really do have a point here in addressing them in the same light.

      7. LaShundria Vines

        I understand that is a probkem with black on black crime but how does this justify the officer shooting an un armed man 10 times. Are you saying he was justified in killing the homeless mentally ill guy?

      8. Concetta Clemente

        The difference here is that black people go to jail when they kill people, the police don’t. That is why people are outraged, because of injustice.

      9. valerie johnson


        The issue here is not what black people are killing black people. The issue here is the fact that a mentally ill person who was sleeping and minding his own business ended up being riddled with FOURTEEN combat ready bullets by POLICE. i don’t expect the same respect for justice, law, and order from some thug-be they black, white, Latino, Asian, etc. I do, however, expect these qualities from someone who takes an oath to demonstrate and exercise such qualities-such as law enforcement.

        Frankly, it would have made more sense for some thug-of whatever race- to have stolen this man’s young life, verses someone who is paid to PROTECT THE MAN THEY RIDDLED WITH FOURTEEN COMBAT READY BULLETS.

        As for black on black crime, at age 61, no black person has EVER perpetuated a crime against me. Numerous times, white people have done so. I can say the same for many of my relatives. I have lived and worked in Houston, Dallas, and New York City-in some of the worst and best black areas. White people have always been the people to commit crimes against me. Perhaps that is because I am an educated professional who moves in circles which are predominately white. Remember, stats are never all inclusive-even the US census misses people and over and under reports stats. Stats are just that, stats, there are always caveats as nothing is ‘perfectly concise.’

      10. Marie

        Hey I am half black and half white and really can’t stand how everyone keeps mentioning the “black Community”. Ive been looking for this so called black community for years! Do you know where I can find it?? I keep hearing it constantly especially from white folks but I still don’t know where it is! Could it be that you are all referring to the slums and hoods yet are grouping all black people together. Why must I a black person from Sherman Oaks be held responsible for the actions of a black man in a whole other state? Why is it that whenever black people do something wrong all black people are responsible and our “community” needs to come together? The community doesn’t even fucking exist because not all fucking black people know each other. Do you ask the White community to join together after one of them shoots up a school or movie theatre?? Ive never even heard of the white community! FBI statistics show that the only crimes blacks commit more are gun deaths, robbery, and gambling. Every other crime is committed more by white people. So what is the white community going to do about that? 783,564 drug abuse violations, 788,175 driving while drunk, you have the highest rates of suicide, and mass murder. So please tell me when the white community is going to address that?? It NEVER will because white people are never held accountable for others actions but all black people are grouped together into a fucking “community” and held responsible. There is no such thing as the fucking black community. I literally only know 4 other black people, do I have to start a community with them?? Its a double standard so please stop using that term unless you also use the term “white community” which I guarantee you never have. Plus which one do I join if Im half and half?! Now I am responsible for double.

        1. Jena

          Best. response. ever. so fucking accurate and .. just spot on. thank you. Hope you don’t mind me referencing this comment, more so, cause it sums up articulately how i feel when i hear “black community”

      11. Dee

        Why do tragedies of this kind always bring out black on black murders? That is another topic and so are white on white; white on black; black on white murders! We get that! If a citizen gets caught in their crime, arrests are enacted by whom? The Police! But who is going to POLICE the police! Citizens do not wear a uniform or a badge unless they apply, go through training and become a cop! Citizens are not the Police, they don’t take the oath to “Serve and Protect” the communities they serve. Citizens are not protected by a Police Union, Internal Affairs, and Political Leaders in their city or state. Police do serve and protect themselves but so do their Police Union and Internal Affairs within. When they strap on that gun, pepper spray, and baton, they have the power of control. They have people within to justify their shootings of innocent citizens. A police officer does not have to spend money for legal advice or lawyers in a police involved shooting. It’s free to an employee of city, state or federal because they pay to become a member of a union of $32/mo. or less. The state provides them legal counsel from their pool of “City Attorneys” if there is a complaint against them. Citizens do not have that, they have to come out of pocket and some don’t have it so they have to give what the state gives to them and that is a Public Defender who works for the STATE! It always goes back to the state! Therefore, so money will not be spent for Police who are involved in shootings, they justify their kill or injury of innocent citizens. It saves the state money! A better way for the state to save money is for LEO’s to kill so they don’t have to house or feed a prisoner, another reason for justifying their murders. A vicious cycle!

        A police officer who kills needs to be responsible and accountable for their actions. Their superiors have to stop justifying their shootings of unarm innocent citizens. They don’t even follow their own protocols! The killing or injury of young black, Brown, mix citizens by Police have got to stop! Laws need to change. Citizens are going to stop calling 911 for fear of a love one, friend, or citizen getting killed without probable cause. If a citizen have to answer to his crime then so does those who wear a uniform and a badge! The police departments need to be demilitarized; trust is not what they have anymore and they are not above the LAW city, state, or Federal.

      12. Mike Harris

        Actually Mike, you sound a bit racist yourself. More whites kill whites than black people too. So I suppose we should stop that from happening before we prosecute white cops that kill white people too??? What an absurd concept!

      13. Cheryle

        separate issues, mike kaiser: police officers who hide behind their fear of black people; and black people “shooting” black people.

      14. Merciless Allah

        And that has what to do with the police being paid by the same people they are killing! There is a very big difference between someone being killed in a “trouble” part of town, than being killed by the very person your taxes hired to “protect” you! So if the “down trodden”, disenfranchised, unemployed, mentally ill, the so-called minorities, and anyone similar are no longer considered people worth protecting then please change the laws so we can protect and police ourselves! Until the laws change to exclude the aforementioned, STOP ALLOWING THESE RACIST AND CRIMINALLY NEGLIGENT OFFICERS TO WALK AROUND FREE AFTER COMMITTING COLD BLOODED MURDER! Murder is murder no matter who does it or who it happens to! A latino killed by a black is not worse then the POLICE murdering anyone in cold blood! #redarrowpark

      15. Ralph Burke

        Mike, in my opinion, you are comparing apples with oranges. The issue that is being addressed in this forum deals with whether or not police officers are getting away with unjustified homicide/murder. Unfortunately, we live in a society that sees race first, second and third, before seeing a person as a human being. The unjustified killing of anyone, of any race is a horrible thing. What’s equally horrible is that the scales of justice seem to be weighted more on one side than the other. I think having empathy is key, if we could for one minute feel the pain, anguish, hopelessness, longing, mental illness, and/or justified anger of others, maybe our opinions would differ. I’m a police officer Mike. That’s my chosen path, and I love what I do. If my years on the job have to me anything, they’ve taught me to have empathy. My attempt, when I respond to a call is to be fair and firm, and I am definitely color blind. It doesn’t matter to me whether or not you’re red, blue, or pink, if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. But empathy Mike, empathy is one of the keys to proper decision making. This country, our people are breaking my heart everyday with all of black, white and brown issues.

      16. Tonya Moone

        Black on Black crime stems from the self hate that the Europeans instilled in us in slavery. This is just a product of what was set up by design by Europeans. Slavery, guns, drugs. self`hate among black races, all things brought to us from the European Mas’sa. We are addressing these deep rooted and intentional issues among our race, but that does not mean we are going to sit down and take the police killing us on top of us killing us. We WILL unite against that, just as you would if an outsider was attacking one of your siblings. #JusticeOrElse… #BlackLivesMatter

      17. Toni

        Mike Kaiser you are a asshole. You clearly have no clue. You would be singing a different tune if this tragedy happen in your family. If you can’t be sensitive to what happened to this young man and his family. Just keep your opinion to yourself.

    2. Jamei

      Denise, do you really know everything about either case? I will let you know in the Rodney King case he was intoxicated, drove a long long ways while being chased, he came at the officers and also very out of line. Those officers were investigated and everything was reviewed. While I agree they may have went a little far, they were certainly justified to end the threat. Also, just so you know there were also two other African Americans in the truck who acted the right way. There is no story there because nothing happened to them, and most people don’t even know they were present in the situation. Just remember you must get the facts before really knowing what happened. That is what is going on with these investigations and officers are normally in the right when emotions are taken out of it and common scense replaces emotions. I wish these terrible incidents would never happen, but have respect for the system, it does work.

    1. anonymous

      Because cops are “trained to shoot to kill, not to disarm someone”, direct quote from a police officer that shot someone I grew up with, bc he had a screwdriver in his hand when they busted in HIS house. That was 15 yrs ago, cops are even more above the law now.

      1. Wzrd1

        When it comes to the use of a firearm, it is called lethal force for a reason.
        Military and police are trained to shoot center mass, which is essentially the center of the chest. Some specialty military units train to double tap, one to the head, one to the center mass. All are intended to stop the one one is shooting at quickly.
        Quickly stopping someone is killing them, as people are a bit robust when it comes to disabling them.
        In short, the military and police are trained to shoot where it will kill someone. But, 14 shots indicates not sober consideration of a necessary act of self-defense, but of panic.
        I never unloaded more than three rounds into a person and I’m a combat veteran from the military.
        14 shots tells me another thing, he had a 14 round magazine and the poor guy finally had a change to fall down.

  2. Seattle Doesn't Believe in the Actions of these Cops OR THOSE EMPLOYEES

    Employees of a Starbucks in Seattle would NEVER call police to harass someone like those two. I will be at their headquarters in a week and I’m going to share this employees account of their actions………that I believe stink of both racism AND a general prejudice against homeless people. They aren’t protected the company brand…..they are behaving like Wisconsinites!!! We don’t put up with that in Seattle!!! Assholes…

    1. To the "Non-Prejudice" Resident of Seattle

      ^Did you actually even read the story? The employee who wrote this felt that it was wrong to call the police just based on the fact that someone is homeless. They do, however, support calling the police when they are doing illegal drugs in the bathroom. It’s pretty justifiable to call the police for that. What the hell does being from Wisconsin have to do with that? That’s extremely offensive and prejudice yourself, I might add. If you don’t live here or know our culture, how the hell can you comment on it? What the police did was wrong and there is definitely a history of racism within the MPD, but that does not mean that the city, excuse me, the entire state of Wisconsin as you say, is racist/prejudice. What happened was tragic and preventable, but ultimately the blame lies in the hands of that singular officer, not the employees nor the entire state of Wisconsin.

      1. Susan

        Milwaukee is one of the most racist places in the world. It blows my son’s mind when he visits from Chicago how outwardly racist comments are made by people in this area. I just know from being in other cities like Minneapolis and Seattle that this city is sadly more outwardly racist, whites towards blacks and blacks towards whites. Sad.

        1. Daniel

          This is true! MPD hires officers from northern Wisconsin and they have little to no experience with minorities.

    2. suzi

      I live in Wisconsin and I agree with “Seattle Doesn’t Believe…”, the employees knee jerk reaction and (yes) RACISM incited the cops to continue to respond to a non-issue. A person with Schizophrenia may wrongly interpret the police intervention after 3 times, may become paranoid, etc. Milwaukee was recently ranked dead last in best places to raise an African American child. Whine and cry that Wisconsin isn’t full of racists, but the stats in Milwaukee do not support your view. I’ll tell you truthfully Seattle, the Starbucks in Madison would not have called the cops on a sleeping black man.


      I am from Wisconsin and not racist. I now live in Seattle, don’t really notice a difference. Not all “Wisconsinites” behave like that. It was one barista’s choice to make the call, so let’s not generalize.

    4. Sarah

      I live in Milwaukee WI and I agree with most of what was said here but please don’t generalize and assume that everyone in Wisconsin are horrible racist people, as you sated, “they are behaving like Wisconsinites!!! …Assholes… “. That’s an ignorant and prejudice statement and I’m sure not everyone in Seattle agreed with your opinion. Just because I live in Wisconsin does not mean I’m an asshole or have the same views and believes that’s associated with this state. I’m sure there are assholes all over the world. Also, there are a lot of good people that I know who have marched in Madison for weeks, even camped out all night, trying to make a difference and correct injustice in the state of Wisconsin. By making the last statement you’re changing the main focus and diverting it to a different argument. This is about about the policeman that shot him, and the injustice that may or may not have occurred to Dontre.

      R.I.P Dontre and I hope that he gets his justice!

  3. Sloane Schuyler

    The mentally ill, more often than not, are victims of violent crime and in fact not the perpetrators of crime.
    What is wrong with our society?!
    When did the homeless become a part of our population that needs to be “removed/moved” because they make someone uncomfortable?
    Can’t bear to witness the less than perfect part of society?
    YES, you should be uncomfortable; homelessness and poverty should make you uncomfortable and outraged!!
    And what about these Starbucks employees?! Wtf, did it not occur to any of them to initially check on this man before calling the police?
    And…he was going to interfere with business/ sales? Since when did money take precedence over a human being…
    Dare I say it…
    I think that this article is more about someone attempting to absolve themselves of guilt, and their uncomfortable feelings related to their lack of action and less about reporting a factual account.
    All in all it was a tragedy and NO ONE thought that the events would play out as it did.

    1. Belle

      I agree with you 100%! As I was reading this article, all I could think was, “so why did you call the pigs???” I’d have bitched that coworker out so damned good! Stupid ppl!!! So damned brainwashed to believe a SLEEPING HOMELESS person can do somethin to hurt them. And how dare she to even say that a sleeping homeless person will hurt sales?!!! Sounds to me like she was DEFINETLY tryin to absolve her guilt trip!!!!

      1. Kelly Brandmeyer

        Hello Belle. I’m the author of this post and it seems like maybe my details were confusing.

        1. I’m not the one who made the phone calls.
        2. I disagreed with the choice to make the phone calls.
        3. This article is not to “absolve” any guilt, as I’m not the one who pulled the trigger on Dontre.

        The purpose of this article is to be a recount of the facts as I experienced them in an honest way and to bring attention to the plight that many homeless and/or mentally ill people face everyday in the city I live in.

        Turning this tragedy into something better, I am looking to bring the community together through a local non-profit that helps people who are dealing with mental illness.

        Thanks for reading!

        1. Mike

          Kelly I guess what bothers me is the fact that you call tho police to remove people from your bathroom doing “illegal” things, and when this officer did what you asked you stated “him experienced something unsavory with this particular officer before” because he also made people who were homeless leave as well and this made him unsavory. Did you specifically say the homeless people are OK to be in here. Does your employer want you to let homeless people stay in your store with paying customers? And what do you think your employer would say if they say this post? And since you just transferred there did other employees call the police to have these homeless people removed previously and he was just doing what had been asked of him. So I guess what i am asking before you condemn this unsavory officer is do you really have all the facts or are you just guessing on a few of them?

      2. valerie johnson


        The issue here is not what black people are killing black people. The issue here is the fact that a mentally ill person who was sleeping and minding his own business ended up being riddled with FOURTEEN combat ready bullets by POLICE. i don’t expect the same respect for justice, law, and order from some thug-be they black, white, Latino, Asian, etc. I do, however, expect these qualities from someone who takes an oath to demonstrate and exercise such qualities-such as law enforcement.

        Frankly, it would have made more sense for some thug-of whatever race- to have stolen this man’s young life, verses someone who is paid to PROTECT THE MAN THEY RIDDLED WITH FOURTEEN COMBAT READY BULLETS.

        As for black on black crime, at age 61, no black person has EVER perpetuated a crime against me. Numerous times, white people have done so. I can say the same for many of my relatives. I have lived and worked in Houston, Dallas, and New York City-in some of the worst and best black areas. White people have always been the people to commit crimes against me. Perhaps that is because I am an educated professional who moves in circles which are predominately white. Remember, stats are never all inclusive-even the US census misses people and over and under reports stats. Stats are just that, stats, there are always caveats as nothing is ‘perfectly concise.’

      3. valerie johnson


        I love your question as to why the people called the police. He was not bothering anyone or doing anything illegal. I guess his only crime was breathing while black.

  4. Athena Moody

    I’ve been born and raised in Milwaukee all my life and at one time loved and adored Milwaukee I never thougt that it would come a time that I would fear the city that I grew to love, im more afraid of the men and women who were put in a position to serve and protect me…I think the blame should be put on the training of these individuals that aren’t well equipped to go out here and deal with different circumstances. .and this is one of the reasons im moving my children out of the city ..because I don’t ever want to get a call that one of my children were shot because they were on a side of town that other people didn’t think they belong or because they look a certain way or even worst that they were shot because someone thought thier music was too loud…I pray over my children every day and ask God to protect them from the ones who promise to serve and protect us…

  5. L H

    This story has me very emotional. I have a son that has a mental illness and worry that someday the same may happen to him. Feeling helpless all the time. My son is a very smart person and because of a chemical imbalance is often discriminated against. What I am trying to say is that he did not make his bed, it happened. We need help for those with mental illnesses.

    1. jesso

      I feel the same way L H! My son is almost 12 and dx Bipolar, ADHD n has already had visual and auditory hallucinations in the past yr (he’s actually even in a residential place right now due to my physical injury) …BUT before they announced Dontre had a mental illness it was the first thing that popped into my head.

      I think we are gna have to do something drastic WI n nationwide we need to start having our children n even adults.wear a green bracelet to identify they have a mental illness. So just MAYBE these type of incidents WILL be approachd differently. It may be sad but if my son has to wear a bracelet vs. gettng killed so be it!!

  6. fazi

    Its always easy to comment or judge from the couch. If you try to remove police weapon you should assume that a deadly force will be used against you. Police didnt know he was schizophrenic.

    1. joe_d

      Sure, but why was the officer using his baton in the first place? According to this employee’s side of the story, there was clearly no reason the officer had to escalate the situation like he did. And 10 shots? Even if the officer’s life was in danger, there’s absolutely no reason he had to fire 10 shots. You’re totally missing the point. Let’s call it what it is: a police officer murdering an innocent person.

        1. tbone

          You see it wasn’t a hanging billy club. It was a kosh, a collapsible telescoping baton. No human can take multiple hits to thechead wihout being knocked out. It folds up AND snaps closed in a holster. He probably poked him with it after taking it from his holster to wake up. Probably why he got fired. Cops weapon was drawn before contact. Remember non.emergency line…

    2. Mo

      I can see that Cop walking up to the sleeping man and prodding with his baton….and anyone pokes me with anything while I sleeping in public I am going to grab it. Apparently too much time is spent on firearms and not enough on handling intense situations with poise. Funny thing is….the kids from my school who became cops were always the ones who were power hungry and bullies….so no surprise here.

  7. Cathy Cadman

    Everyone has their own prejudices – as evidenced by a person accusing the residents of an entire state of being racist! How silly and narrow minded. My thoughts go out to the family and friends of the victim and the police officer.

    1. Mo

      As citizens we police our own….if your state seems racist….don’t claim the whole state isn’t racist…..DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, AND STOP JUST BEING CONCERNED WITH YOUR OWN WELL BEING!!! Typical Midwest attitude…..if it doesn’t affect us, why get involved right?

  8. Milwaukee Cops are the worst

    I whole heartedly trust her account of what happened. Milwaukee Police not all but a fair amount have a air of superiority about them. As if they are above the law or can pass judgement on a person because of anh given reason. My situation was completely different but I was kidnapped held hostage for three hours and tortured.What did the cops do? Question me about my past background (disorderly conducts things of that nature) and urge me not to press charges because I was ruining someone’s life. That is seriously what was said. I have absolutely no faith in the Milwaukee Police department

  9. Ben

    racism?! Are you kidding me, what just because the guy was black, its racism? It wouldnt have mattered if the guy was pink, yellow, black, or purple. When a cowered scum bag hides behind a badge and possess a gun and wakes up every morning knowing he can brake the law, no skin color is going to save you.

    Racism, how simple minded………its not racism, its called a nation wide police force being trained by the DHS and federally funded to keep you under control. This is happening at a weekly rate across this country, What is the racism too? Morons.

    Nothing can fix a pussy hiding behind a gun with disregard for human life. Nothing.

      1. You Need "Mo" Comprehension Skills

        No, if YOU had a brain, you’d see the point Keith was making. Obviously the baton didn’t just magically appear in Dontre’s hand. At some point during the altercation, he probably took it from the officer. Is the officer supposed to assume, “Oh, he now has my weapon. Although he was aggressive enough to take it from me, he probably won’t be aggressive enough to use it.”? NO. I think it’s pretty much common sense that if you’re in front of a cop with a weapon, they sure as hell will one-up you with their firearm.

        Am I saying Dontre should have been shot? HELL NO, and certainly not 10 times. What I’m saying is that this is a simple case of CAUSE AND EFFECT. Brandish a weapon at a cop, and most likely they’ll shoot you. I know unfortunately Dontre wasn’t in his right mind due to his mental illness and lack of sleep, but a cop isn’t going to wait around to figure out your situation as you hold a weapon to them. It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

  10. Stan Montgomery

    It’s so true, this type of thing goes on across the country everyday. Let’s be real about it, it happens to blacks, and other minorities more often. Why? Lets start at the root of it. You walk into any police station across the country, and it will over 70% white, no matter what the make-up of that area is. Those that are in charge of their conduct are also white for the most part. I don’t care what station you walk into, in whatever part of the country, you’ll never find a station where the minorities out number the whites, because they never allow their sons, daughters, niece, or nephews to be put in that situation.

  11. Pingback: Eyewitness Disputes Police Account Of Dontre Hamilton Killing In Milwaukee | YouViewed/Editorial

  12. Anthony Myers

    So many of the problems that plague our city were clearly manifested within this one, sad event. Yes, racism and discrimination are always at play in Milwaukee, and speaking as a black man, it is a sad part of our city’s legacy that every person of color must live with should he or she make Milwaukee and Wisconsin home. Also clearly evident is how much of a failure our mental health system is not only to people of color, but to anyone who struggles with mental health issues and are without the means to be treated for their conditions. Had Mr. Hamilton had access to affordable mental healthcare, perhaps he would have been provided medication that would have allowed him to be anywhere else other than sleeping in Red Arrow park. Finally, the training disparity among Milwaukee Police officers is also laid bare due to the fact that two officers previously responded to the problem with no conflict, yet another officer responds, decides that his life was in eminent danger from a man wielding the OFFICER’S OWN baton, and then rather than using his taser to incapacitate Mr. Hamilton, shoots him dead with ten rounds. Being a young black man in America (and especially Milwaukee) today is dangerous enough. Being a young black man suffering from Schizophrenia is almost like being a death row inmate waiting to die.

    1. Marie

      You make a wonderful point, but a majority of MPD Officers are not taser trained and do not use them. It would have been a much better result in this case if a taser had been an option.

      1. kamilla johnson

        Why are they trained to use deadly force first shouldn’t the respond be to save that live first

  13. Bob Smith

    Look, this is a very sad situation. But the writer admits she didn’t see what instigated the fight. She only saw the cop and the victim facing off. I’m not defending the cop, but I am saying you need ALL AVAILIBLE EVIDENCE to draw any conclusions. This account is missing one crucial piece on the timeline.

  14. "witness"

    Great job by the story teller. So you have a lot of questions, but you just tell a story like the headline states. So it was a good read of a “story”. I hope you put up the 1st hand account from the officers point of view. To give it equal space in this form of media. Also it’s not really relevant to place a different story from a different time and place in the middle of yours?

  15. Anonymous

    So this “writer” didn’t see what happened to start the fight. Many accounts include the officers own head show he was hit numerous times. When you continue to hold your ground with a baton against a cop you can’t call that a defensive position. So your clearly wrong in all aspects.

    Then you go to mention why the cop didn’t come talk to you? Easy to answer, BECAUSE THE OTHER COPS JUST HAD APPROACHED YOU! Should they detail their every step to you?

    Maybe don’t be such a whiney baby and call the cops every time you see a black man near your work.

    The liberal bullshit that is this article is mind blowing. You contradict yourself in every paragraph – didn’t see the actual fight that numerous other people saw and were the one to continue to call the cops. Only in your head does that make sense.


      Why are there so many replies that seem to indicate that the poster didn’t actually read what was written?

      The author of this post isn’t the one that called the authorities. This is an eye witness account based on what this person saw, so it’s perfectly appropriate to mention that she didn’t see what instigated the fight. It’s perfectly reasonable, based on everything that’s written/known, that it was a series of events that led to this tragedy. Assuming what she said is true, she had good reason to be suspicious of that officer. So many people are touchy when it comes to criticizing a possible misstep of a cop.

      I guess the only place where your comment makes any sense is in YOUR head.

  16. Juan Ridgeway

    First of all, Im mad people are actually commenting on how racist a state is and its people, or why someone said this or that. “My cousin was just killed” the first thing people do when they murder someone is say it was self defense. Via Travon Martin, or the Jodie Areis case. Instead of these people saying they did it by mistake or bad judgement they lie and say it was self defense…….Smh I just wish people would just open their eyes and see that good people like the police officer can make the wrong decision and take the life of an innocent Son, Brother, COUSIN,

  17. Juan Ridgeway

    To my little cousin DONTRE. “I miss you, love you, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again one day. Your time was cut short but your dreams and spirit still live on through us.”

  18. Pingback: Witness account of officer-involved shooting is very different from police account | Homediy Pro

  19. kalin h

    This was a very well written price that shed light on the situation I having not even herd this story before reading you article now feel like I was right there I’m sorry you had to witness that.

  20. Chris

    You concerned folks! Please put your addresses here so that the next time the police encounter one of these individuals, they could bring them to your house for care, food, medication and compassion. Oh, but wait, you would not open your home to a bum, vagrant, drunk, junkie, or disturbed person would you? No! You expect the government to do it. Well, the government sent a cop. They should send a social worker. Of course they don’t come out of their offices because it’s not safe. Walk a mile before you judge and more importantly, keep your hypocritical opinions to yourself. Did you help anyone in any way today? Start now!

    1. Dragonetta

      Thank you, Chris! They could’ve given him a drink of water or a sandwich and politely asked him to move down some. This makes me sick to my stomach that a man should have to die for falling asleep near someone.

  21. Jefferson

    Police officers in Milwaukee have multiple non-lethal means on their person to deal with a physical altercation. The baton was neutralized, but the officer still had a multiple shot taser gun on his belt and an aerosol deterrent (pepper spray). The fact that the officer pulled his gun shows two things. One, the officer allowed his fear to cloud his judgment. Two, the officer responded with anger. Both of these points exhibit the officer’s inability to tap into his training of how to deal with a situation such as this – a person wielding a non-lethal weapon. The officer found himself in a compromised position after he lunged to get the baton away from the individual and panic set in. Had this officer immediately used one of the other non-lethal options available to him after his baton was taken from him, this situation would have been over without a fatality. It is beyond sad that the officer decided to seek physical contact with the individual. This officer should be fired.

  22. Overfiend

    It is a tragedy anytime someone is killed. I am very sorry for Dontre’s family.

    But there are many questions regarding this barista’s account of what happened. I detected a bit of anti authority bias in their words – does that play into how he/she saw the event?

    Hopefully the truth will come out – whatever it may be – and tragedies like this will be prevented in the future.

    1. Kelly Brandmeyer

      Hello Overfiend!

      Thanks for the reply. In response to your concerns, it’s good to have a healthy dose of skepticism when reading an account like this.

      Whether or not you believe that I am here trying to genuinely share an experience as fairly as possible, I *did* mention that two officers, at two different times, showed up to the premises and fulfilled the job of protectors splendidly.

      This is not an anti-cop piece.

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  37. WorksInTheArea

    Why Chris – why is that name stinging as it leaves my fingers? Oh that’s right because Chris was the name of the foot officer who thinks all homeless people created their own problems and deserve the punishment. Also Chris is who invited himself to prod Dontre with a nightstick as he slept and only after the assigned officers addressed the call. Chris is the name of the man who couldn’t figure out a better way to resolve the problem of losing his nightstick other than putting 10 bullets into the man holding the nightstick. You don’t know me so you don’t know it but I am doing things to improve our environment. The first thin

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  44. A.

    So basically, the Starbuck’s employees killed Dontre if you think about it. Should have just let him sleep. Pretty sure a sleeping guy wouldn’t have messed up your business for the day. Way to go, dumb asses. Don’t blame the cop. You got the ball rolling on it.

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  48. brother ron

    hi i’m that guy that drives around milw, with that car with the loudspeaker on about god , I just want to say I know both the cap an mr. hamiltion ,but not to well I ve talked to the cop a couple of times ,an I saw mr. hamiltion once or twice ,but what I wanted to say or tell you is a friend of mine ken the clown was beat up by the same cop for protesting in frunt of the city hell aganest the mayor ,an he eas beat up an taken to jail for a nonviolent act ,I guess what im trying to say is this is not the first time this cop hurt some one for no good reason , an I myself have been beatup an jailed for preaching on the side walk for jesus more tmimes then I can count , I could go on for days an weeks an months an years , but ill stop for now , god bless you all , an give your life to jesus ,an not the devil amen , ps see you on the street , thank god it wasn’t you or me , amen

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  53. James Hawk Jr

    Black and born and raised in Wisconsin, never experienced racism until I moved to Texas. Wisconsin is God’s country and I hope to be able to return home one day.

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  56. AnnieB

    Thanks for writing this. We have a problem with our policing system in the U.S. <– understatement. This was just another wake up call we all missed, until Ferguson.

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  63. Dragonetta

    So now we know who is responsible for the police action. The co-worker who called the police about a black man who was sleeping NEAR their establishment, but not bothering them at all. It’s that paranoid, fearful action that got this man killed. Remind me not to fall asleep around fearful white people or I myself may wind up dead for doing nothing wrong.

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  65. Cheryle

    : who is the starbuck employee/s (what are their names) who called the milwaukee police department for a human being sleeping?

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