Family Urges Calm After Milwaukee Ex-cop's Acquittal

Jun 22, 2017, 06:02

The officer's defense attorneys argued that he was in fact following police procedure at every step of the incident-particularly a policy that told officers to expect that a suspect with one weapon might have another.

A former Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man previous year ignited two days of rioting in the Wisconsin city was found not guilty Wednesday of first-degree reckless homicide.

A former Wisconsin police officer was acquitted Wednesday in the fatal shooting of an African-American man, a killing that had ignited two nights of unrest in Milwaukee.

Smith's death at the hands of Heaggan-Brown on August 13 sparked two nights of rioting in the Sherman Park neighborhood and highlighted the strained relationship between police and African-Americans in the city. But, according to the complaint, a homicide charge was warranted because Smith had tossed his gun over a fence and was lying on the ground unarmed, wounded and defenseless when Heaggan-Brown fired the second and fatal 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. "It's a decision the community had to make", Chisholm said.

Jurors reached their decision on the second day of deliberations in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the police force in October after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case. Smith, who was armed with a handgun, ran away from the officers when he saw them exit their squad auto. The videos show that Heaggan-Brown fired two shots.

It also was less than a week after a Minnesota officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was cleared of manslaughter by a jury in the fatal shooting of a black motorist.

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The shots, 1.7 seconds apart, ended the brief foot chase that lasted 12 seconds. The following morning Heaggan-Brown reportedly left the man at a Milwaukee area hospital, then text a Police Department superior to say he had made a mistake and wanted "to handle this in the most secret and right way possible". "It was only one person that took my son's life and that's Heaggan-Brown".

Data shows 82 officers nationwide have been charged with murder or manslaughter for on-duty fatal shootings since 2005, said Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio's Bowling Green State University.

Jonathan Smith said Dominique Heaggan-Brown is "thankful for the jury" that found him not guilty Wednesday of first-degree reckless homicide for the death of Sylville Smith last August. According to Fox6, jurors also had the option to pick from two lesser charges instead of first-degree reckless homicide.

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