Former Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown was found not guilty Wednesday in the on-duty fatal shooting of Sylville Smith that set off two days of violent unrest a year ago in parts of the Sherman Park neighborhood.
A former Milwaukee police officer has been acquitted of reckless homicide in the fatal shooting a black man that sparked riots last summer.
Deliberations resume Wednesday and jurors have to decide whether Dominique Heaggan-Brown acted in self-defense when he killed Sylville Smith or if the former officer is guilty of first-degree reckless homicide or two lesser charges.
"Try as hard as you can to be peaceful and form unity with each other, period". The verdict concludes a week of courtroom proceedings and two days of jury deliberation in the controversial case.
"That first shot was a justifiable shot and that justification did not change in 1.69 seconds", Smith said, alluding to the time that transpired before the first and second shot.
"There's this sense of unease that the community has when they see these officer-involved deaths", he said. Jonathan Smith, Officer Heaggan-Brown's lawyer, told jurors that officers were taught to use the "one-plus rule" - or to expect that if a person has one weapon, he might have another.More news: International Yoga Day celebrated across the globe
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Body-camera video showed Heaggan-Brown shooting Smith once in the arm as he appeared to be throwing the gun over a fence. But he told investigators in an interview after the shooting that he had guessed that Mr. Smith was involved in a drug deal because he was driving a auto with out-of-state plates.
Heaggan-Brown's attorney also declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A prosecutor argued during the trial that Heaggan-Brown shot Smith as he was attempting to surrender and that the second shot was unreasonable.
The former officer still faces charges in an unrelated sexual assault investigation.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, who made the decision to charge Heaggan-Brown, said he did not agree with the verdict but would respect it.
News of Dominique Heaggan-Brown's acquittal has sparked plenty of reactions on Twitter. After Smith fell and lay on the ground, Heaggan-Brown approached him and fired again, hitting Smith in the chest from several feet away. Prosecutors argued that Smith no longer posed a threat. Heaggan-Brown is also black. The jury deliberated for ten hours over two days, and after Judge Jeffrey Conen announced the verdict, Smith's family members sobbed.
Before the fatal shooting near 44th and Auer on August 13th, 2016, Heaggan-Brown had only been a Milwaukee police officer for three years.