Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
U.S. | By Eddie Scott

Milwaukee jury clears ex-cop in black man's death

Milwaukee jury clears ex-cop in black man's death

Attorney David Owens announced it Wednesday, just minutes after a jury cleared Heaggan-Brown of criminal reckless homicide in the shooting of Smith last August that spurred two nights of violence in Milwaukee. The remaining cases are pending.

The rulings are the latest examples of police officers escaping unharmed after killing African Americans over the past few years. Smith is shown approaching a chain-link fence with a gun in hand when he's shot the first time.

MARGE PITROF, BYLINE: Well, it had been a violent weekend in Milwaukee last August with about a half dozen shootings when Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown and a partner tried to pull over the vehicle that Sylville Smith was in.

Ninety seconds passed before the officer chose to help Smith but he quickly stopped when some blood got on his thumb, which he then wiped on Smith's shirt, according to the lawsuit.

MCEVERS: What charges did that officer face?

The first shot hit Smith in the arm, and the second, which was sacked after Smith fell to the ground, hit him in the chest.

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".

"I just fired shots, he is down right now", he said. Heaggan-Brown had been charged with first-degree reckless homicide and was facing 60 years in prison. He shot him again 1.69 seconds later, this time in the chest, when Smith fell on his back with his legs in the air. Smith and Heaggan-Brown are both black.

The defense rested Monday after calling its lone witness, Robert Willis, an expert in police use of force, according to WISN.

Michael Crivello, President of the Milwaukee Police Association, the city's police union, also welcomed the jury's decision. "As he fired, defendant Heaggan-Brown was standing directly over Smith-an execution-style shooting of an unarmed civilian".

Members of Smith's family could be heard crying in court as the verdict was read.

Smith's father, Patrick, appealed for calm after the verdict, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

The case brings to light how police, regardless of color and gender, are often protected when they're involved in shootings with Black victims. They - we're not animals. But when you look at it closely they're looking at a circumstance which was fairly unique. It's to kill you because a dead man can't talk, so he can't explain what really happened. But the shooting outraged many black residents in the highly-segregated Milwaukee, many of whom who have long complained about police brutality, and touched off 48 hours of uprising in the Sherman Park neighborhood.

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