MILWAUKEE (AP) – A jury in Milwaukee needed only two days to clear a former police officer in the on-duty shooting of a black man last year that ignited riots on the city’s north side.
Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was acquitted of reckless homicide Wednesday in the death of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. Smith fled the officer with a gun, and was shot twice.
The case turned on whether Smith was defenseless after Heaggan-Brown’s first shot hit him in the arm as he appeared to be tossing his gun over a fence. The second hit him in the chest. Defense attorneys argued that Heaggan-Brown had to make a split-second decision.
Smith’s family members reacted with outrage to the verdict, and their attorney immediately announced a civil lawsuit against the former officer and the city.
Heaggan-Brown was fired two months following the shooting after he was charged in an unrelated sexual assault, but the jury heard nothing about the other case.