Family reacts angrily to Milwaukee ex-cop's acquittal

Posted June 22, 2017

The fatal shooting sparked violent riots in Milwaukee as protesters looted businesses and attacked journalists. He believes the second shot was unreasonable.

A jury of four blacks and eight whites found Dominique Heaggan-Brown, a former Milwaukee police officer, not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith during a foot chase. The auto had out of state plates and officers suspected people inside were selling drugs.

Heaggan-Brown fatally shot Sylville Smith after Smith fled from a traffic stop with a gun last November.

MCEVERS: What charges did that officer face?

The defense team also "argued that Heaggan-Brown was following officer training in ending a threat, and that the former officer could not know whether Smith had another weapon", WUWM added. The men ran and the officers gave chase, and Heaggan-Brown shot and killed Smith.

"Heaggan-Brown fired once at which time he observed the pistol fly out of Smith's hands and over the fence into the backyard of the residence", a criminal complaint states.

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.

Now, the defense claimed - and it just put one witness on the stand.

"Mr. Heaggan-Brown knew at the time he fired that second shot that Sylville Smith had already disarmed himself", Chisholm told the jury, WISN-TV reported. Smith was on the ground when he received the fatal shot.

MCEVERS: How is the victim's family reacting today to this verdict?

Members of Smith's family cried in court as the verdict was read.

Smith's father, Patrick, appealed for calm after the verdict, according to the Journal-Sentinel. "This doesn't have to be an us versus them attitude but when communities lack trust because their rights have been violated, it's hard to begin the conversation". They - we're not animals.

PITROF: The family's also filing a civil suit against the city. Mayor Tom Barrett said police would have a strong presence in the Sherman Park neighborhood hit by the previous unrest, and urged any demonstrations be peaceful. But the case is different from recent high-profile police shootings that have inspired a national conversation about how officers interact with African-Americans: Heaggan-Brown and Smith are both black and from the north side of the city where the shooting occurred.