Former Wisconsin Officer Who Fatally Shot Sylville Smith Acquitted on Homicide Charges

Heaggan-Brown's attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense and was forced to make a quick decision about whether to shoot.

Jurors found that Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide when he shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a brief foot chase following a traffic stop August 13.

The officer is going to face a jury trial in August for the sexual assault charges, which follow a disturbing narrative: Heaggan-Brown allegedly had been drinking heavily at a bar the night after Smith's shooting, where he "bragged about being able to do whatever without repercussions" to a man whom he later sexually assaulted.

Smith was armed with a gun and running from Heaggan-Brown when the officer shot him the first time. Smith's shooting triggered several nights of violence in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood. Heaggan-Brown fired one shot from his service weapon, striking Smith in the right arm and prompting Smith to toss his own firearm over a fence and place his hands on his head. "And our argument is that justification did not change over the course of 1.69 seconds between shots", defense attorney Jonathan Smith said.

Smith's family members were devastated and angry about the cop's acquittal as they stormed out of the courtroom. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told the jury that Smith was "in the most vulnerable position that he can possibly be in", adding that "he looks like a child", Fox6 reported.

Former Milwaukee police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown appears in Milwaukee County Court on Tuesday.

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Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the police department in October after he was charged with sexual assault in another case.

Officers chased Smith on foot after he ran from a traffic stop near 44th and Auer. Jurors are also being given the option to choose from two lesser charges instead — second-degree reckless homicide and homicide by negligent operation of a unsafe weapon. As they exited their squad vehicle, Mr. Smith, who was armed with a handgun, darted away and ran into a yard with a chain-link fence.

Heaggan-Brown chose not to testify in the trial.

The 12 person jury, which included four blacks, sided with the defense. He was charged with assaulting a man a day after he fatally shot Smith. According to Fox6, jurors also had the option to pick from two lesser charges instead of first-degree reckless homicide.

The jury is made up of nine women and three men.

Smith's shooting was among a string of killings of blacks by police in recent years that have increased debate about race and policing.

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