Home Madison Ex-cop Acquitted in Shooting That Sparked Milwaukee Riots

Ex-cop Acquitted in Shooting That Sparked Milwaukee Riots

A police car with broken windows is seen in a photograph released by the Milwaukee Police Department after disturbances following the police shooting of a man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 13, 2016. Milwaukee Police/Handout via REUTERS

The former Milwaukee police officer who shot and killed 23-year-old Syville Smith in August, sparking days of violent protests in Milwaukee, was found not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide.

Jurors said Dominque Heaggan-Brown, who was fired from the police department in an unrelated sexual assault incident, was justified when he shot Smith after a brief foot chase following a traffic stop Aug. 23.

Body-camera video shows that Smith had a gun when he ran, but the case hinged on whether he was a threat when Heaggan-Brown fired the fatal shot.

Body-camera video shows Heaggan-Brown shooting Smith once in the arm as Smith appeared to be throwing the gun over a fence. Heaggan-Brown’s second shot, less than two seconds later, hit Smith in the chest as he lay on the ground.

Prosecutors said Smith was defenseless at the time of the second shot. Defense attorneys argued Heaggan-Brown had to act quickly to defend himself.

The shooting led to protests which exploded into two nights of violent clashes with police and destruction of property throughout the neighborhood.