Former police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown of the Milwaukee is free and has been acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of Sylville Smith last August. The family of the slain man could be heard crying in emotional pain after the verdict was read.
The fateful day that Smith lost his life, he appeared to be attempting to surrender when Heaggan-Brown fired the two gunshots that would ultimately take a life. The pain can be heard in the moans of Smith’s family. Unfortunately, most Americans know by know that cops will not be facing justice for the lives they take. The defense rested Monday after calling its lone witness, Robert Willis, an expert in police use of force, according to WISN.
Body camera video from another officer was played for the jury last week. The video showed that Heaggan-Brown shot a second bullet into Smith’s chest after the suspect flung his weapon over a fence and had his hands near his head. Smith was on the ground when he received the fatal shot.
The jury heard closing arguments and deliberated about five hours Tuesday. “Mr. Heaggan-Brown knew at the time he fired that second shot that Sylville Smith had already disarmed himself,” Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told the jury, CNN affiliate WISN-TV reported. “He knew that Sylville Smith was attempting to surrender.” But defense attorney Jonathan Smith argued his client followed the training and fired the second, fatal shot because he believed his life was in danger; which has been the standard and gotten many cops out of serving the time they deserve. In an interview with WITI, Smith’s brother Sedan said, “It’s the longest 30 seconds of my life to be able to just watch the video.”
*This video contains graphic content of a police officer shooting a man. It may not be appropriate for all viewers. There is no sound.
It’s rather clear that Smith was at least attempting to surrender, having tossed his gun. This shooting death sparked two days of protests. Experts say close to 1,000 people are fatally shot each year by police officers in the United States and few ever face justice.
The New York Times laid out the events leading up to the shooting:
Officer Heaggan-Brown and another officer were working in a residential neighborhood in Milwaukee when they approached Mr. Smith, who they suspected was involved in a drug deal. As they exited their squad car, Mr. Smith, who was armed with a handgun, darted away and ran into a yard with a chain-link fence.
When Mr. Smith reached the fence, he threw his gun over it, just as Officer Heaggan-Brown fired at him, a shot that hit Mr. Smith in his right arm.
Mr. Smith then fell onto the ground. Moments later, Officer Heaggan-Brown, standing several feet away, fired again, striking Mr. Smith in his chest. An official from Milwaukee County’s medical examiner’s office said that the second shot traveled through Mr. Smith’s heart and lung and was “not survivable.”
Using frame-by-frame video from the officers’ body cameras, prosecutors argued that while the first shot fired by Mr. Smith was reasonable, the second shot was not.
The video showed that at the time the officer fired a second shot, Mr. Smith no longer had a gun and was on the ground — “hands up, with no place to go,” said the prosecutor, John Chisholm.
Officer Heaggan-Brown had no reason to fear for his life once Mr. Smith was unarmed, wounded and unable to run away, Mr. Chisholm said during his closing arguments on Tuesday. “Shooting someone point blank when he’s on the ground is utter disregard for life,” he said. -New York Times
But the jury didn’t agree, and Heaggan-Brown is now a free man while the family of Sylvile Smith is left mourning not only their lost loved one but the justice they will never get.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
We encourage you to share and republish our reports, analyses, breaking news and videos (Click for details).
Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.