How Can Ed Flynn Sleep at Night?

On Wednesday, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn terminated the employment of Police Officer Christopher Manney for conducting a frisk of Dondre Hamilton — a troubled man with psychological issues — in Red Arrow Park.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Internal Affairs complaint:

During the April 30 incident, Hamilton resisted Officer Manney’s attempted pat down by putting “his arms down and a confrontation ensued.” Manney drew his baton and, after delivering a strike to Hamilton’s arm, Hamilton disarmed Manney and struck the officer in the neck with the baton. Fearing for his life, Officer Manney shot Hamilton numerous times.

Mr. Hamilton later passed away from injuries sustained in the shooting.

On September 23, 2014, Deputy Inspector Michael Brunson, the commanding officer of the Internal Affairs Division, alleged Manney “failed to adhere to policy when he failed to have a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Hamilton was armed with a weapon or posed a threat to him.” However, during a compelled interviewed with Internal Affairs, Manney told investigators that he observed “bulges” in Hamilton’s pockets.  In a response to the charges, Manney noted that Hamilton was lying down in a public park “in the path where the public walks” and that the officer “immediately suspected” that Hamilton “wasn’t in a normal state.”

Having over 30-years of law enforcement experience, I believe Manney followed the edicts of the courts during his contact and subsequent pat down of Dondre Hamilton. The burden of proof needed to conduct a frisk is a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person MAY BE armed — an evaluation that is determined by the totality of the circumstances.  Bulges in the pockets of a seemingly unstable person in a public place could certainly lead a reasonable police officer to believe a person may be armed.  Moreover, I have yet to speak to a single officer — not a one — who believes Manney’s frisk of Hamilton was unjustified.

Consequently, Chief Flynn’s decision in this matter merits scrutiny. In situations such as the shooting death of Mr. Hamilton, rank-and-file police officers soon learn if their police chief is a dedicated law enforcement officer — a person who once toiled in the field and likely conducted dozens of frisks in a similar manner as Officer Manney — or a politician with a badge.  In this instance it is obvious that Flynn is a politician in a blue uniform.

So, I have a few questions for Chief Flynn:

Sir, how can you sleep at night knowing full well that you have thrown a police officer under the bus for simply doing his job?

Chief, do you actually believe that the rank-and-file officers of the MPD — the men and women who put their lives on the line policing troubled areas of Milwaukee — have any confidence in your leadership?

And how will your officer’s react knowing that you, sir, are willing to end their careers to appease City Hall political operatives, the press, and some disgruntled members of the public?

Chief Flynn, what incentive do the officers of your department now have to stop and question potentially armed and dangerous individuals, when, career wise, a better decision might be to drive right on by?

Chief Flynn, as a cop, you have lost your way. While I generally do not purport to speak for others, I feel confident in noting that your decision to fire Officer Manney for seeking to protect his person while performing a dangerous job is an embarrassment to those of us who have worn an MPD uniform.

Chief, with a 2014 homicide clearance rate of just 40 percent, and a per capita murder rate that rivals Chicago’s, maybe it is time to pack it in and call it a career.

Only the bootlickers on the seventh floor of the PAB or the Internal Affairs ‘yes men’ will bother to wave goodbye to Ed Flynn as he trots off to the east coast for a cushy consultant’s position.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014

8 Responses

  1. Glenn D. Frankovis

    These are documents sent to me that detail the statement of charges and Manney’s reply.

    2014-102 2014.10.15 ORDER OF DISCHARGES
    .pdf Download View

    2014.10.14 RESPONSE TO CHARGES
    .pdf Download View

    2014.10.06 CHARGES
    .pdf Download View

    2014.10.01 RESPONSE TO CHARGES
    .pdf Download View

    2014.09.23 CHARGES
    .pdf Download

    October 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

  2. Glenn D. Frankovis

    I have read the documents that were forwarded to me and find no justification for termination of Officer Manney. The charges appear to me to be an over reach in order to come to a politically correct conclusion. In fact, I find it difficult to believe that any member of the Department with any amount of street experience could come to such a conclusion whether that member be an investigator from IAD or a Command Officer. Even if that would be the case, any Police Chief with any REAL street experience would have been able to see the problem with the rationale used to draw such a conclusion and therefore NOT render a decision to terminate.

    In my opinion, this whole incident could have been avoided if either the same two Officers who initially responded twice had been sent back to handle this assignment. (I would really like to know why they didn’t take corrective action, as it seems apparent that somebody called and was troubled by this guy’s presence. It would seem to me that the very least they would do is tell the guy to move on, and if they did that the first time then their second time there should have had a different result thereby negating the need for Manney to have to respond for a third investigation.) If that was not possible, then another two man team should have been sent. To send one Officer to the same assignment for the same individual after two man teams had already been sent twice is incredible to me. Anybody who has any amount of REAL street experience should know that even having to return to an assignment involving the same individual is usually going to result in an arrest in order to resolve the problem (unless Flynn changed that part of the S.O.P., that is also in the S.O.P. regarding the decision justifying summary arrests for municipal violations – specifically S.O.P. 3/075.00 Municipal Court Citations Section A Guidelines which states in part “Citation issuance, in lieu of summary arrest, is contingent on whether or not it resolves the situation conclusively.”).

    The argument that Manney should have disengaged and called for backup is a coffee house argument and does not take into consideration the dynamics of the situation or even similar situations. (Even the United States Supreme Court has said that in a case involving use of deadly force. It’s the “reasonable Officer” standard which essentially says you have to view the situation from the Officer’s perspective at the time of the incident.) Manney makes an excellent argument for not disengaging and calling for backup and any law enforcement Officer worthy of the name should be able to understand that. Things can go from easy to difficult in the blink of an eye, and those of us who have worked in high crime areas can certainly come up with personal examples of that. This is what troubles me about Flynn’s policies. It is as if they were written by someone from the Milwaukee Journal or some college professor with absolutely no field experience. EDPs (emotionally disturbed persons, as they are referenced throughout these documents) by their very nature can be explosive and without warning. If anything, an Officer needs to exercise even more care to prevent an attack by such an individual. If this policy is written with that in mind, and is somehow using the logic that an Officer should NOT approach a mentally ill person the same as he/she would approach some other individual he/she was sent to investigate in a similar situation, then it is a flawed policy that puts an Officer in harm’s way by its very wording. That is not to say that an Officer has to immediately make physical contact, however the Officer must be prepared to take such action quickly if any warning signs are exhibited. In this case, those signs are clearly articulated by Manney and his response certainly appears to be appropriate and are the actions any reasonable Officer would take under the circumstances.

    To reach the conclusion that Manney could have done things differently to avoid the escalation of his use of force is incredible to me and an example of hindsight judgement. I have always believed that every critical incident should be critiqued for the purpose of reinforcing what went right and learning and adjusting to what went wrong so that those things that went wrong are not repeated in the future. That said, the critique here should begin with the Dispatch policy and work its way down to Manney’s response. Manney was put in this situation by a flawed Dispatch policy, and the problem was compounded greatly by a policy for contact with the mentally ill that may have been well intentioned but places Officers at high risk by requiring them to lower their guard. I also think Manney, and many other Officers, have been placed in great jeopardy by an administrative atmosphere which puts a greater burden on one man units to produce and a District personnel deployment policy that is insufficient to do the job safely and effectively. (I found it interesting that the statement of charges/investigation included a comment that Manney could have called for help and received an immediate response from the squads working the area. I wonder just how many squads are available at any given moment to respond as the investigator/supervisor from IAD seems to think. It seems to me, from the feedback I get from Officers, that backup is few and far between and can’t always be counted on when needed. I remember that to even be the case when I was still around in my later years on the job. Even IF backup was available, any REAL police officer who has ever had to call for an assist knows that it seems like an eternity before help arrives even if help arrives within a minute or two. When you’re involved in a fight like Manney was involved in, it only takes one direct hit from the baton to kill you.)

    What’s my solution to this problem? Two man squads or have a policy in place that specifically requires two Officers to respond ANYTIME there is a check on the welfare or trouble with a man type call. It is very likely that it was not the policy that prevented Hamilton from fighting with the first two Officers who checked on him twice. It was the fact that there WERE two Officers who checked on him. When a lone Officer checked on him he very likely assessed that he had an advantage and became aggressive. The principle is very simple. When Officers outnumber the people they are sent to investigate, the likelihood of being attacked by those people is greatly diminished as is the need to resort to use of force. In short, nobody gets hurt.

    October 17, 2014 at 12:31 pm

  3. Haven’t seen this one on the national news. I’m pretty sure Flynn is very disappointed to be missing out on the spotlight.

    As a citizen, I’m very glad the police did respond. Obviously the man was unstable, he could have turned his rage on anyone. Thank God he chose someone who could and did defend himself and the public at large.

    I would feel much safer with quick thinking officers like Manning on the force.

    October 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

  4. Fred Haas

    Great job! I believe 99% of all active officers and all retirees of MPD support your thoughts. The puppet (chief) just followed what the Mayor told him to do, while pulling his stings. MPD hasn’t had a CHIEF since Breier retired. We only had people who occupied his office. A sad day for Milwaukee Police Department. I’m thinking of walking down the middle of the street, downtown protesting as I know I won’t be arrested, since it apparently is not against the law to do so, even without a permit.

    October 17, 2014 at 5:31 pm

  5. Me

    Thanks for your support Lt

    October 17, 2014 at 7:17 pm

  6. Jeff Nelson

    An abomination!!!!! Retired GPD officer

    October 18, 2014 at 9:51 am

  7. William G. Theep

    Chief Flynn has exposed himself as a coward and political mouthpiece for his inept boss Mayor Tom Barrett. Under Mayor Barrett’s and Chief Flynn’s watch the City of Milwaukee has disintegrated into a cesspool resembling Detroit Michigan. It’s time both these political clowns are sent packing before more damage is done. Ohio vs Terry allowed the officer to complete a pat down of Mr. Hamilton. The standard for a pat down is that the officer “believe a crime is being committed or belief that a crime is about to be committed”. Loitering maybe an ordinance violation but ordinance violations are considered crimes. Barrett’s and Flynn’s cowardice to stand up for the officer has placed the City of Milwaukee in line for another multi-million dollar payout at the end of a lawsuit. I’m glad I’m no longer a resident of the City of Milwaukee and feel for the officer’s that are forced to endure the stupidity of these two clowns.

    October 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm

  8. Maria Z

    Steve,you are awesome! You hit the nail on the head. I’ve decided since next March will be my 15th year in Communications,I want to make it my last,I’ll move on to much better things. I’ve realized too often that when laziness and favoritism mean more than work ethics and hard work when it comes to getting ahead,it’s time to leave.

    October 23, 2014 at 2:05 am

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