Fatal shooting shines spotlight on treatment of mentally ill

CREATED May 1, 2014 - UPDATED: May 1, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Milwaukee police identified the suspect they shot and killed at Red Arrow Park Wednesday.  Police say 31-year old Dontre Hamilton attacked an officer, forcing him to shoot. 

Hamilton had schizophrenia. This is the second time in six months police have had to shoot someone who had serious mental problems.
 
"I'd say the system failed him," said Police Chief Edward Flynn. "I think it failed the individual last year. I think it's failed every single individual we've ever had to shoot. We are not doing enough for the mentally ill."
 
Hamilton's family say they tried to get help for him as recently as this week. 
 
Nathaniel Hamilton says his little brother struggled with mental illness and once tried to kill himself but he was not violent toward others.
 
Hamilton may have been the last to talk to his brother by phone on Wednesday. 
 
"I'm like where you at," said Nate. "He said: 'I'm at the park." At the park doing what? He said, 'just chillin, just hanging out." 
 
He describes Dontre as a sweet brother who was troubled by voices.
 
"We saw it unfolding but we've never seen it to the point where it was violent," said Nathaniel.
 
On Monday, the family says it contacted the Milwaukee County's mobile crisis unit and Dontre' was evaluated that day at his apartment.
 
"They asked him how he was feeling if he was still hearing voices and he said yeah I'm still hearing voices,' said Nathaniel. "So they said we don't have the medication. We can schedule you to come in May 7th." 
 
Two days later he was dead. The family ultimately wants to now why police had to shoot to kill. Nate has lots of questions.
 
"Did you reach for your gun while he was on you or did you have time to say hold it, hold on stop? How much distance was between you guys while he's holding the baton?
 
Nate says his family was always looking after Dontre. Ironically, it was his little brother who thought one day he'd help the family by winning the lottery. 
 
"He wanted to be rich. He would say I will have duffle bags full of money for us I'm going to take care of the family." 
 
Dontre's family is planning a rally at Red Arrow Park Friday at 9am and a vigil at 8pm.
 
Additional Resources:
Psychiatric Crisis Line
 
Access Clinic