Milwaukee ex-cop who fatally shot Sylville Smith found not guilty

Heaggan-Brown was acquitted less than a week after a Minnesota police officer was found not guilty of shooting a black motorist in a suburb of St. Paul.

Sherelle Smith spoke shortly after a 15-person jury found former officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown not guilty Wednesday of first-degree reckless homicide in the on-duty fatal shooting of Sylville Smith a year ago.

A jury cleared a former black Milwaukee police officer of all charges in connection to his shooting of a black man Wednesday.

Prosecutors focused on the second of two shots aimed at Smith, saying he was no longer armed by that time and the officer should not have fired again.

The alleged sexual assault occurred on the morning of August 15 after a night of heavy drinking at a bar where the two men "sat and watched television as coverage of the Sherman Park protests [over Smith's death] aired", the criminal complaint said. But, according to the complaint, a homicide charge was warranted because Smith had tossed his gun over a fence and was lying on the ground unarmed, wounded and defenseless when Heaggan-Brown fired the second and fatal shot.

The second and fatal shot was sacked after Smith tossed his gun and dropped to the ground. "And our argument is that justification did not change over the course of 1.69 seconds between shots", defense attorney Jonathan Smith told the jury.

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 said he respected the jury's decision.

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

Heaggan-Brown was sacked in October when he was charged with two counts of assault in a separate investigation.

The encounter started as a traffic stop and turned into a foot chase. Not only did they acquit him on the first-degree reckless homicide charge, but they also declined to choose lesser options that included second-degree reckless homicide and homicide by negligent operation of a risky weapon. Heaggan-Brown fired because he feared his life, his defense lawyer said. Heaggan-Brown and Smith were both black, and four of the 12 jurors were black. As they exited their squad auto, Mr. Smith, who was armed with a handgun, darted away and ran into a yard with a chain-link fence. The second one ultimately killed Smith.

Deliberations resume Wednesday and jurors have to decide whether Dominique Heaggan-Brown acted in self-defense when he killed Sylville Smith or if the former officer is guilty of first-degree reckless homicide or two lesser charges.

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