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Former Milwaukee Police Officer Charged in the Death of Sylville Smith

UPDATE: 

The Family of Sylville Smith released this statement about the former Milwaukee Police Officer being charged in the death of their family member:

"We appreciate that the District Attorney has shown independence and sound judgment in prosecuting the officer who shot and killed Sylville. We also appreciate that this is but the first step in holding that officer accountable, but a necessary step in bringing some measure of justice.

We always believed that Sylville should be alive today, and that this rogue officer was completely wrong. Though the decision to prosecute cannot bring back Sylville, justice is needed for our family as we continue to move through deep grief and seek justice for his wrongful death.

We ask that the press please respect our need for space and privacy, as we begin to process the District Attorney’s decision and continue to mourn the loss of Sylville. Press inquiries may be made to Attorney David B. Owens, of Loevy & Loevy, 312-243-5900. Please respect our wishes and do not contact us.

The Family of Sylville Smith"

ORIGINAL: Former Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown has been charged in the death of Sylville Smith.

Heaggan-Brown has been charged with first degree reckless homicide.

The shooting happened on August 13 in the 3200 block of North 44th Street in Milwaukee.

After the shooting, there was violent unrest in the city of Milwaukee. 

Body camera footage shows Smith flee from a 2016 Ford Fusion during a traffic stop. 

According to the criminal complaint, body camera footage shows Smith carrying a black semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine.

Officer Heaggan-Brown and another officer chased Smith.

The video shows Smith slip to the ground as he approaches a chain link fence between two houses. It also shows him get back on his feet, with the gun still in his right hand. He then turns his head and upper body toward the officer. Smith then raises the gun upward, while looking in the direction of the officers, then throws the gun over the fence into the yard. 

He was shot first in the bicep and then fell to the ground. While on the ground Heaggan-Brown is seen on body camera video walking up to Smith and pointing his gun at Smith's chest and firing. 

They did not search for a second gun after the shooting. 

Smith's firearm was not discharged. 

The District Attorney has said the body camera video will not be released before the case goes to court.

 Statement from Chris Ahmuty, ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director:

“The ACLU of Wisconsin welcomes the District Attorney’s decision.  It will give the Smith family the support of the State of Wisconsin in their quest for justice, as well as giving the accused, former Officer Heaggan, his day in court. The criminal proceedings may also shed some additional light on the degree to which Milwaukee Police Department policies and practices may have contributed to Mr. Smith’s death.  As we’ve seen around the nation, stop practices such as those employed by the Milwaukee Police Department can result in unwarranted civilian deaths. Regardless of the outcome of these proceedings, the Milwaukee community needs to know that justice has been served.  However, separate from the issue of former Officer Heaggan’s criminal liability, city leaders and law enforcement officials need to make sure that the Milwaukee Police Department and all its members work to protect and serve all residents in an unbiased and professional manner.”

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