Former Milwaukee officer charged in fatal shooting of black man

A police car with broken windows is seen in a photograph released by the Milwaukee Police Department after disturbances following the August police shooting of a man in Milwaukee. Photo by Milwaukee Police via Reuters

A former officer with the Milwaukee Police Department has been charged in the fatal shooting of an armed black man following an August traffic stop that led to a foot chase.

According to the Associated Press, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm charged Dominique Heaggan-Brown — who is also black — with first-degree reckless homicide in the fatal shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. Smith's death sparked days of uprisings in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood, with the National Guard called to restore calm on the city's north side.

A formal announcement wasn't made, but local media uncovered the charges in online court records. The records also indicated Heaggan-Brown will make an initial court appearance on Friday.

As WITI reports, the criminal complaint indicates that Heaggan-Brown shot Smith as he turned with a semi-automatic pistol in hand, but then fired again after the gun was already tossed:

"According to the criminal complaint, the body camera video 'shows Smith falls to his back, with his legs and arms going up towards his head in what appears to be a half backwards roll. P.O. Heaggan-Brown is observed standing a short distance from Smith with his weapon pointed down at Smith when Heaggan-Brown discharges a second shot from his weapon at what appears to be Smith's chest."

A review of the body camera video 'confirms that at the time of the second shot, Smith was unarmed and had his hands near his head.'"

Heaggan-Brown was terminated from his position in late October after a separate investigation into alleged misconduct. The former officer, who had served in the police department for 6 years, was charged with two counts of second degree sexual assault and prostitution, and one count of capturing an intimate representation without consent after a victim came forward two days after the fatal shooting with allegations he had been drugged and assaulted by Heaggan-Brown after a night of drinking. The investigation, its resulting charges and Heaggan-Brown's termination are unrelated to the fatal shooting incident involving Smith.

The city of Milwaukee, one of the most segregated cities in America, has a long history of protests and rioting following violent interactions with police and minorities. Prior to Sylville Smith, protests erupted in 2014 after the county declined to charge an officer with the shooting death of 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill man who was confronted by police for sleeping on a park bench.

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