Family urges calm after Milwaukee ex-cop's acquittal

Violet Tucker
June 22, 2017

Jonathan Smith, one of Heaggan-Brown's defense attorneys, told jurors the former officer didn't have the benefit of seeing the events unfold in slow-motion, which is how prosecutors have shown jurors the shooting using still frames from bodycam footage.

A Milwaukee jury on Wednesday acquitted a former police officer of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of a black man a year ago that ignited riots on the city's north side.

"Mr. Heaggan-Brown knew at the time he fired that second shot that Sylville Smith had already disarmed himself", Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told the jury, local broadcaster WISN-TV reported. During the foot chase, prosecutors claimed, Smith threw his gun over a fence and was defenseless when the officer shot him.

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.

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

The second and fatal shot was sacked after Smith tossed his gun and dropped to the ground.

"That first shot was a justifiable shot and that justification did not change in 1.69 seconds", Smith said, alluding to the time that transpired before the first and second shot.

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Family members of a black man who was shot to death by a former Milwaukee police officer stormed out of a courtroom after the officer was acquitted in the death.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the Milwaukee Police Department last fall on sexual assault charges, according to the New York Times.

Smith ran from a traffic stop, approached a chain-link fence, and turned to face the pursuing officers, gun in hand. "I really don't want them to act irrationally toward the cops, because all cops ain't bad", he said.

While activist groups such as Black Lives Matter have drawn attention to police shootings in recent years, acquittals of police officers have become all but expected in these sorts of incidents. Prosecution argued that the second shot was unnecessary because Smith had tossed his gun away by that point.

In a request filled with tears, the sister of an unarmed black man killed by a former Milwaukee police officer called for the community to come together and be peaceful after a not-guilty verdict. Heaggan-Brown fired the second shot because he believed Smith was reaching for his waist, according to the complaint.

But Heaggan-Brown's attorneys say he feared for his safety and had to make a split-second decision.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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