Cop Who Killed Sylville Smith Found NOT Guilty By Milwaukee Jury


A former Milwaukee police officer was found not guilty on Tuesday of reckless homicide in the August shooting of a 23-year-old black man, which led to two days of violent protests.

Former officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown would have faced to up to 60 years in prison if he had been convicted.

At the prosecution’s request, jurors were also given the option to convict the former officer on one of two lesser offenses — second-degree reckless homicide or homicide by negligent operation of a dangerous weapon — if they were not convinced the District Attorney made the case for negligent homicide, Heaggan-Brown’s attorney told BuzzFeed News. Those lesser charges carry maximum sentences of 25 years and 10 years respectively.

Heaggan-Brown shot Sylville Smith twice on August 13 after a traffic stop, according to the criminal complaint.

Smith fled on foot from Heaggan-Brown and two other officers, and body cam footage later showed that he was armed when the officer first shot him in the bicep. The second shot, however, which hit him in the chest, was fired after Smith had thrown his gun over a fence and he had collapsed on the ground. The jury was shown the footage last week.

“I’m absolutely sick. I’m just going to find the people and support the family now. I don’t know what’s happening in Milwaukee,” Markasa Tucker, 38, a member of the activist group called Uplifting Black Liberation and Community (UBLAC) Milwaukee told BuzzFeed News immediately after the verdict was announced.

In his closing statement on Tuesday, Heaggan-Brown’s lawyer argued that the officer’s actions in a time-sensitive situation were not negligent, Fox 6 Milwaukee reporter A.J. Bayatpour reported.

“Officers are forced to make split-second decisions — split-second, literally, in circumstances that are intense. Twelve seconds. Twelve seconds from the time he leaves the car through the second shot. That’s rapidly-evolving,” Heaggan-Brown’s attorney, Jonathan Smith, said.

Milwaukee County District Attorney Jonathan Chisholm, in his closing arguments, told jurors that the officer knew Smith did not present an imminent threat when he fired his second shot, Bayatpour reported.

“He knew at the time he fired that second shot, when that bullet went ripping through Sylville Smith’s chest, ripping into his heart, ripping into his lung and ending up in his lower back, he knew at that point in time that there was no imminent threat,” Chisholm said.

The judge ordered cameras and cell phones to be banned from the court room during the trial. The jurors deliberated for close to 24 hours before reaching the verdict Wednesday afternoon.

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