Ex-Milwaukee Cop Charged in Man’s Death

AP/ Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office

A prosecutor has charged a former Milwaukee police officer in a fatal shooting of a Black man that sparked two nights of riots.

District Attorney John Chisholm charged Dominique Heaggan-Brown with first-degree reckless homicide. Chisholm didn’t announce the charge, but it appeared in online court records that also showed Heaggan-Brown made an initial court appearance Thursday.

Heaggan-Brown, who is also Black, shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith following a traffic stop on Aug. 13. Police Chief Ed Flynn has said Heaggan-Brown chased Smith after he fled on foot.

Flynn says Heaggan-Brown fired after Smith turned around with a gun in his hand and ignored commands to drop the weapon.

But according to court documents, Heaggan-Brown shot Smith in the arm while he threw a gun over a fence. A second shot, fired while standing over Smith, hit him in the chest after he threw the gun and fell to the ground with his hands close to his head. The incident was captured on Heaggan-Brown’s body camera.

Thursday morning, Smith’s family released a statement saying: “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.”

Heaggan-Brown was charged in an unrelated sexual assault and prostitution case in which he was accused of raping an intoxicated man the day after he shot Smith, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He was fired from the police department about two weeks later.

The shooting spurred two nights of unrest in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. According to reports, as many as eight businesses were set on fire, four police squad cars were damaged and four police officers were injured. The cost was estimated in the millions of dollars. Police arrested about 40 people over the course of the three nights.