Sylville Smith, the 23-year-old man who was gunned down by a Milwaukee police officer over the weekend, and the officer who fatally shot him knew each other from high school, Smith's family says, according to CNN.
"The officer knew him personally from high school, and he still shot him," Sherelle Smith, Sylville Smith's sister, told CNN on Wednesday. "He didn't like my brother. The officer had a career, but my brother was more popular. He used to harass Sylville."
The officer, whose identity remains unconfirmed by police officials, is black, as was Sylville Smith.
According to CNN, a source close to the family says the officer had a "personal vendetta" against Smith, although that individual did not give any details.
Police Sgt. Timothy Gauerkel acknowledged that he was familiar with the reports of the men having gone to the same high school and knowing each other, but did not confirm whether the reports were, in fact, true.
One community activist, Goddess Mathews, told CNN that it was well-known that the officer and Smith knew each other.
"No one doubts the officer knew Sylville. How could he not?" she said.
Although authorities have declined to formally identify the officer involved, his name and photo have been circulated across social media and linked to death threats.
Mathews said Smith was a popular hip-hop dancer, while the officer was an "aggressive" cop who was not well liked, CNN reports.
"Yes, a black man did the shooting, but he was wearing a blue uniform with a badge," she said. "He represented the mentality that people around here are less than human. We're enemies of the state."
The activist acknowledged that there are many Milwaukee officers who treat residents of the city's predominantly black Sherman Park area with respect, but said that number didn't include the officer who shot Smith.
"He was like a tyrant," she said of the officer. "He took a very aggressive approach on the street."
She said that the officer was a familiar face in the hip-hop nightclub scene, and wasn't so tough without his badge and uniform.
"He could be overly aggressive out here, but in a room with 200 of us and without his badge and uniform, he wasn't so tough," she said.
The veteran officer—who has six years of service with the Milwaukee police, three of those as an officer—has been placed on administrative duty pending the investigation. Officers have been stationed outside his home, and local media is reporting that he has been staying somewhere else, CNN reports.
Read more at CNN.