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Milwaukee Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Sylville Smith Found Not Guilty

28 June 2017

The shooting that sparked unrest in Sherman Park in August of 2016 was unlike nearly any other police shooting in America because the officer who pulled the trigger grew up in the neighborhood, as did Sylville Smith, the man he shot.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Sylville Smith, 23, following a foot chase that was captured on a police body camera.

Jurors will resume deliberations Wednesday morning.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was one of two uniformed police officers on patrol who stopped two men in a auto.

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"Obviously, everyone recognizes there was a loss of life, and I don't think any officer would want to be put in that situation and to have to make those decisions that he did, but those decisions were made, and I think the jury properly evaluated them", Smith said. Smith's death arrived while being pursued on foot by Heaggan-Brown after fleeing a traffic stop.

"He's in the most vulnerable position that he can possibly be in", Chisholm said. "He looks like a child".

"Jumping out of the vehicle in this manner was part of the City of Milwaukee's "jump out boys" practice and custom where MPD police officers would go to predominately African-American neighborhoods, would pull up next to people (whether on foot, on a bike, or in a car), detain them without probable cause-another unconstitutional practice-and often use excessive force along the way", the lawsuit states. Court documents show that a man told police that Heaggan-Brown raped him at around the same time other Milwaukee police officers were responding to reports of gunshots and having rocks thrown at them during the protests.

The two shots by Heaggan-Brown came in quick succession, striking Smith once in his right arm and then the fatal shot to the chest.

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Defense attorney Jonathan Smith said his client was "gratified" over the acquittal, CNN affiliate WISN-TV reported.

Prosecutors said that Heaggan-Brown's first shot was reasonable, his second was not, as he no longer had any reason to fear for his life. Heaggan-Brown fired the first shot nearly simultaneously with Smith throwing away his gun when he got up. Smith had a gun when he ran, however, prosecutors argued Smith had thrown the weapon over a fence and was then defenseless when he was shot and killed. Heaggan-Brown and Smith were both black, and four of the 12 jurors were black. Heaggan-Brown had been charged with first-degree reckless homicide and was facing 60 years in prison. The lesser charges carry sentences of up to 25 years and 10 years respectively.

The ruling follows Friday's acquittal of a police officer in the state of Minnesota over the shooting death of a black man, triggering local protests and fueling debate over the use of force by law enforcement against minorities.

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Milwaukee Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Sylville Smith Found Not Guilty