The former Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot Sylville Smith in 2016, touching off days of violent unrest in parts of the Sherman Park neighborhood, was sentenced to three years in prison Tuesday for unrelated sex crimes.
Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 26, also was ordered to serve 180 days in the House of Correction and three years of extended supervision after his prison sentence.
He was charged with sex crimes in October 2016 while under investigation for the shooting of Smith.
Court records portrayed Heaggan-Brown as a sexual predator who assaulted men after drinking with them, paying other men for sex and boasting about special privileges he had as a Milwaukee police officer.
At his sentencing, prosecutor Erin Karshen described the former cop as a “manipulative narcissist” who groomed his victims through text messages and was “always pushing more and more.”
She took issue with claims in some letters of support of Heaggan-Brown that suggested the investigation was tied to his sexual orientation.
“This is not a situation that’s about sexual orientation and about who’s homosexual and who’s heterosexual,” Karshen said. “This is about the defendant manipulating the situation.”
Heaggan-Brown was convicted of false imprisonment, three counts of soliciting prostitutes and two counts of capturing an intimate photo without consent, after he entered pleas last month.
Heaggan-Brown’s charges originally included two counts of second-degree sexual assault of an intoxicated or unconscious victim, which each carried a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.
One of the sexual assault charges stemmed from an incident that occurred the day after the shooting in Sherman Park. Heaggan-Brown took a man to a bar on the city’s east side where they drank and watched TV coverage of the unrest.
The man told police he had trouble recalling what happened after he left the bar but said he remembered waking up to Heaggan-Brown raping him, according to court records.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Conen said he had to sentence Heaggan-Brown based on the current charges, not the original allegations, and said it was a difficult case.
He repeatedly noted the shooting itself played no role in his sentencing decision. He said he found Heaggan-Brown’s actions after the shooting “concerning and disturbing.”
“He is at a bar as the city is burning,” Conen said.
Jonathan Smith, Heaggan-Brown’s attorney, said it was a “very stressful and difficult situation.”
Smith also contended the victims in the case, whose identities have not been made public, all had “some tangential relationship” with Sylville Smith.
He said he was not alleging a conspiracy but rather pointing out the fact that Heaggan-Brown was well-known as the officer involved in the Sherman Park shooting by the time officers began investigating the sexual assault allegations.
“I can’t ignore the fact that there came a time when my client became for a certain segment of the community public enemy No. 1,” Smith said.
Heaggan-Brown apologized to “everyone associated with the case” and said he took full responsibility for his actions and wanted the chance to be a father to his 5-year-old son.
“Even though I don’t have the materialistic things I once owned, I now have faith and a purpose in life,” Heaggan-Brown said.
Heaggan-Brown was given 493 days of credit for time served. He has been housed in a separate unit for his safety, spending 23 hours in his cell each day, and has been the subject of numerous threats, according to Smith, his attorney.
He also has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and severe anxiety, Smith said.
In December 2016, Heaggan-Brown was charged with first-degree reckless homicide in Smith’s shooting. A jury acquitted Heaggan-Brown last summer. Smith’s parents and estate have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city and its former officer in federal court.