An acquittal in Milwaukee
- Author: Leroy Wright Jun 23, 2017,
Jun 23, 2017, 18:01
Former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 23-year-old Sylville Smith following an August 13 traffic stop is shown in this October 2016 Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office booking photo in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
A jury in Milwaukee has acquitted former officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown of a reckless homicide charge over the fatal shooting of Sylville Smith last August. Smith rose from the ground, grabbed his gun, turned partly toward Heaggan-Brown and, in the process, threw the gun over the fence.
But one of Heaggan-Brown's attorneys countered that the former officer was forced to make a split-second decision when confronted with an armed man during a foot chase that followed a traffic stop.
Earlier Wednesday, Smith's family filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Heaggan-Brown and the city of Milwaukee.
The death sparked riots on Milwaukee's north side, The Two-Way had reported.
Heaggan-Brown was the third U.S. law enforcement officer to be tried for a shooting in the last week. They were escorted out by a group of sheriff's deputies.
Outside the courthouse Wednesday, Smith's father, Patrick, said the verdict was "disrespectful". At that moment, Heaggan-Brown fired at him, hitting his right arm.
Another of his attorneys, Steven Kohn, said there "is not joy in a case like this" because "a young man lost his life".
The case brings to light how police, regardless of color and gender, are often protected when they're involved in shootings with Black victims.
However, after being shot, Smith threw the gun and rolled to the ground. He believes the second shot was unreasonable.
And all six Baltimore officers charged over the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, due to spinal cord injuries suffered in the back of a police van, were eventually cleared.
During the chase, Officer Heaggan-Brown said that he had ordered Mr. Smith to show his hands and then fired a second shot when he saw that one of Mr. Smith's hands move "toward his waist".
"A gunfight doesn't end until the threat is stopped", said defense attorney Jonathan Smith.
The Milwaukee acquittal also came as jurors in OH concluded their third day of deliberations in the murder retrial of a white University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black motorist. His first trial ended last November with a hung jury. He was sacked in October after those charges were filed, not for the shooting, and prosecutors were barred from referring to him as "a former officer" during his nine-day trial.
Stinson said the race of the officer charged didn't appear to matter to judges or juries weighing these cases. "A police officer is a police officer".