Family reacts angrily to Milwaukee ex-cop's acquittal
- Author: Larry Hoffman Jun 26, 2017,
Jun 26, 2017, 2:33
Smith's family claims that after the fatal shot was sacked, Heaggan-Brown was stung by a bee and his first call for medical help was for himself, not Smith, who "was lying on the ground, suffering huge pain".
Jurors began deliberations Tuesday around midday after attorneys delivered closing arguments in a case that poses the question of whether the officer was acting in self-defense or shooting a man who was no longer armed.
The jury included four African-Americans.
Heaggan-Brown was charged with First Degree Reckless Homicide for firing the shot that killed Smith on August 13, 2016. The two men ran, the officers gave chase, and Heaggan-Brown shot and killed Smith.
"There is not joy in a case like this", said Steven Kohn, one of Heaggan-Brown's attorneys, after the verdict.
Judge Jeffrey Conen had instructed the jury of nine women and three men to consider lesser charges in the reckless homicide trial but Heaggan-Brown was cleared of all counts.
The family says that Smith posed no threat and that Heaggan-Brown was never in any danger that would justify the use of deadly force. The first hit Smith in the arm as he appeared to throw his gun over the fence.
Data shows 82 officers nationwide have been charged with murder or manslaughter for on-duty fatal shootings since 2005, said Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio's Bowling Green State University. Heaggan-Brown fired the first shot nearly simultaneously with Smith throwing away his gun when he got up. Then, they heard from the only defense witness, an expert in police use of force, who happened to have written the use of force manual used by Milwaukee police officers. An official from Milwaukee County's medical examiner's office said that the second shot traveled through Mr. Smith's heart and lung and was "not survivable".
The death sparked riots on Milwaukee's north side, The Two-Way had reported.
Officer Heaggan-Brown was sacked in October from the Milwaukee Police Department on unrelated sexual assault charges. Heaggan-Brown fired the first shot when Smith's gun was raised in the air, but the second, fatal shot occurred when Smith was unarmed. Heaggan-Brown and two officers were making their way back to their district station when they made a decision to initiate one last traffic stop.
Jonathan Smith, a lawyer for Heaggan-Brown, said the former officer was relieved by the outcome.
In Cincinnati, a jury began deliberations Monday in the retrial of former University of Cincinnati police Officer Ray Tensing in the fatal shooting of a motorist during a July 2015 traffic stop.
Heaggan-Brown's attorney also declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Last week, jurors saw body camera footage that showed the incident.