Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
National | By Rosalie Gross

Ex-cop avoids charges in killing of 23yo Milwaukee man

Ex-cop avoids charges in killing of 23yo Milwaukee man

The former Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot a black man last August in an incident that sparked riots was found not guilty on Wednesday.

According to reports, Smith was fleeing a traffic stop on foot and had allegedly turned with a gun in hand toward the pursuing officer. While the defense argued that Heaggan-Brown had to make a quick decision in the heat of the moment.

Chisholm said the case was the rare one that he felt "very strongly" he could charge and prove, aided greatly by video from body cameras worn by Heaggan-Brown and his partner. Heaggan-Brown has said he thought Smith might have had another gun in his waistband. After Smith was shot, the resulting violence during protests left businesses burned, police cars damaged and officers injured.

The protests against Heaggan-Brown played out mostly on the north side in the Sherman neighborhood of Milwaukee.

Heaggan-Brown faces unrelated sexual assault charges, and a separate trial is planned for August. He was sacked from the force in October 2016 after two men said he sexually assaulted them, while two others said he solicited sex from them.

Sylville Smith's sister Sherelle Smith made a plea for peace outside the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Wednesday.

"The department knew about it, but they don't care because they defend officers with impunity and that is what allows them to kill and shoot first and ask questions later".

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Prosecutors argued that it was unnecessary when Heaggan-Brown discharged his weapon a second time.

Chisholm says while he's disappointed in the outcome, he respects the jury's decision. According to a report by HuffPost a year ago, only 13 officers were convicted of murder or manslaughter in fatal on-duty shootings from 2005 to 2015. After the first jury deadlocked during the prosecution of Raymond Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati officer who shot Samuel DuBose during an off-campus stop, prosecutors sought another trial, which got underway this month. A police officer who reasonably perceives a mortal threat (as the officer did here) doesn't shoot, reflect, observe, and shoot again.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the Milwaukee Police Department last fall on sexual assault charges, according to the New York Times. The vehicle had out of state plates and officers suspected people inside were selling drugs.

Prosecutors said that Heaggan-Brown's first shot was reasonable, his second was not, as he no longer had any reason to fear for his life.

Heaggan-Brown and two other officers were doing overtime patrol on August 13 prior to the start of their regular 4 p.m. shifts.

Heaggan-Brown experienced the encounter in "real time", not in frame-by-frame motion as it was shown to the jury, Willis said, according to WTMJ. It added that Heaggan-Brown had said in an interview that he thought it "could be consistent with drug activity".

Stinson said the race of the officer charged didn't appear to matter to judges or juries weighing these cases.

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