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Still no charging decision in shooting by officer

MILWAUKEE (AP) — More than four months after a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed a man in a downtown park, prosecutors said Tuesday they still hadn’t decided whether the officer should be criminally charged.

Attorney Jonathan Safran, who represents the relatives of victim Dontre Hamilton, initially told reporters the family was meeting with prosecutors Tuesday evening to learn whether charges were going to be filed.

But Kent Lovern, a Milwaukee County assistant district attorney, said that decision was still pending. He said the purpose of the meeting was to update the family on the progress of the investigation.

Lovern did not immediately respond to an email asking when he expected a charging decision would be made.

But Safran said after the meeting the district attorney told them it could take another month before he decides on any charges, WISN-TV reported.

“This family is still frustrated. We’re still hurt. We’re still going to fight for justice,” Hamilton’s brother, Nate Hamilton, said at a news conference before the meeting.

Safran had said before the meeting that he appreciated that prosecutors were being careful, especially in light of the protests that broke out in Ferguson, Mo., after an officer-involved shooting last month, but he said the months-long wait has been tough on the family.

“I have a family here that is very, very disappointed,” Safran said.

Hamilton, 31, was sleeping in a park on the afternoon of April 30 when an officer woke him up and conducted a pat-down search. A brief scuffle broke out, ending when the officer shot Hamilton as many as 15 times.

Hamilton’s family met with police in July, and said they were told of witness accounts suggesting the officer may not have been acting in self-defense, as police initially said. Hamilton had taken the officer’s baton, but his relatives said there were conflicting reports on whether Hamilton actually struck the officer with it or whether he simply grabbed it to avoid being beaten.

The Milwaukee case has drawn comparisons to last month’s shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, partly because both officers were white and both victims black. The Ferguson shooting led to days of sometimes-violent protests, and Milwaukee activists have cautioned that the anger there is no different than the anger in Wisconsin.

Milwaukee protesters have held at least four rallies in recent weeks. Activists have marched through streets while police diverted traffic and allowed them to move unimpeded, and one rally evolved into an hours-long sit-in at the Milwaukee Municipal Court building.

Hamilton’s family and community leaders are angry over what they say is a lack of transparency by the Milwaukee police department.

They want to know the officer’s name, noting that they’ve been waiting more than four months for that information even though Ferguson police released the name of the officer who killed Brown within six days.

Milwaukee police have said they won’t release the name until a charging decision has been made.

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