January 20, 2019

Former Milwaukee Officer Acquitted In Shooting Of Sylville Smith

26 June 2017, 10:55 | Marion Schneider

The family of Sylville Smith filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, the same day the ex-cop was found not guilty of homicide for fatally shooting Smith previous year.

Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown had faced up to 60 years in prison on the charge of first-degree reckless homicide for his role in the death of Sylville Smith. The former officer, who left the force after the shooting, is also.

Judge Jeffrey Conen has advised the jury to consider lesser charges. P.O. Heaggan-Brown is observed standing a short distance from Smith with his weapon pointed down at Smith when Heaggan-Brown discharges a second shot from his weapon at what appears to be Smith's chest.

The alleged sexual assault occurred on the morning of August 15 after a night of heavy drinking at a bar where the two men "sat and watched television as coverage of the Sherman Park protests [over Smith's death] aired", the criminal complaint said.

Patrick Smith reacted outside the courthouse in Milwaukee where Dominique Heaggan-Brown had just been found not guilty in Smith's death.

The jury made its judgment after two days of deliberation. Heaggan-Brown fired the second shot because he believed Smith was reaching for his waist, according to the complaint.

He told investigators that as he reached for his taser, a fellow officer yelled, "he has a gun". The camera shows him briefly pointing the gun at Smith as he begins the pursuit.

Jonathan Smith, a lawyer for Heaggan-Brown, said the former officer was relieved by the outcome.

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Prosecutors say the first shot was justified self-defense, but that Heaggan-Brown's second shot was a felony.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked two months later after he was charged in an unrelated sexual assault.

The defense - which made its case in a single day and had one person testify - argued the prosecution wasn't able to paint an accurate picture of what happened, despite body camera footage. At that moment, Heaggan-Brown fired at him, hitting his right arm.

During his 16-month standard probationary period as an officer in 2013, Heaggan-Brown was seen in uniform, in a YouTube video, entering an apartment that had a marijuana bong on the refrigerator, according to the lawsuit.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the Milwaukee Police Department last fall on sexual assault charges, according to the New York Times. The verdict was to be read Wednesday afternoon. Four of the jurors are black and the rest are white.

During his reckless homicide trial, prosecutors argued Heaggan-Brown did not need to use deadly force against Smith, claiming that the deceased was "in the most vulnerable position he [could] possibly be in" when he was killed.

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