Milwaukee jury acquits cop in shooting that sparked riots
by Leigh Jones
Posted 6/21/17, 05:17 pm
A Milwaukee jury on Wednesday acquitted a former police officer in the shooting death of an African-American man last year that sparked two days of riots. Sylville Smith, who had a gun, ran from officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown after a traffic stop. The officer shot as Smith threw the gun over a fence, and prosecutors argued Smith was defenseless. But bodycam footage showed only 1.69 seconds elapsed between the first shot, which hit Smith in the arm as he threw the gun, and the second, which hit him in the chest. Minutes after the acquittal, Smith’s family filed a civil suit against the city and Heaggan-Brown, who lost his job on the police force following an unrelated sexual assault charge. Attorney David Owens said events proved the former officer, who also is African-American, should never have been on the police force. Smith’s death and the aftermath sparked national attention after Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke blamed liberal policies and the “welfare state” for problems in the black community.
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Leigh lives in Houston with her husband and daughter. She is the news editor for The World and Everything in It and reports on education for WORLD Digital.