Trial Begins for Former Milwaukee Cop Who Killed Sylville Smith

Dominique Heaggan-Brown (Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office)
Dominique Heaggan-Brown (Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office)

The jury trial for Dominique Heaggan-Brown, the now former Milwaukee police officer who shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith, is scheduled to begin Monday.

Heaggan-Brown, who, like Smith, is black, is facing a first-degree reckless homicide charge for shooting Smith following a traffic stop back in August. As Fox6Now reports, the charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

The shooting sparked two nights of protests across Milwaukee. The criminal complaint notes that both Heaggan-Brown and another officer on the scene at the time of the shooting were wearing body cameras. The footage from both officers shows that they chased Smith on foot. The complaint also details that the “video shows Smith slip to the ground and he approaches a chain link fence between two houses. The video shows Smith rise back to his feet with the gun still in his right hand and Smith turns his head and upper body towards the officer. He then raises the gun upward while looking in the direction of the officers and throws the gun over the fence into the yard.


“While Smith raises his gun upward, P.O. Heaggan-Brown discharges one shot from his service weapon at Smith and Smith falls to the ground on his back,” the complaint also states, noting that after he fell to the ground, Smith was unarmed.

However, Heaggan-Brown then fired a second shot, authorities say. The footage “shows [that] 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,” the complaint reads.

A review of the bodycam footage “confirms that at the time of the second shot, Smith was unarmed and had his hands near his head,” the complaint indicates.

When interviewed about the incident, according to the complaint, Heaggan-Brown acknowledged that he “fired once at which time he observed the pistol fly out of Smith’s hand and over the fence into the backyard of the residence.” However, Heaggan-Brown told authorities, when Smith fell to the ground, the then officer “believed he was reaching for his waist so he discharged his weapon a second time.”


That being said, further review of the footage “shows that at no time after the shooting did Heaggan-Brown or any other officer search Smith for a second firearm,” the complaint indicates.

The complaint notes that the time between the first shot and the second shot was some 1.69 seconds.


Smith’s family said shortly after the shooting that Heaggan-Brown knew Smith personally from high school and that the officer used to harass him.


A few months after the shooting, the Milwaukee Police Department fired Heaggan-Brown, although his termination had nothing to do with Smith’s death but, rather, involved an unrelated sexual assault case.

In that case, the victim reported to Milwaukee police that “he had been sexually assaulted by Heaggan-Brown while off-duty,” just two days after the officer fatally shot Smith.


The Police Department released a statement following an investigation, declaring that Heaggan-Brown was “in violation of the Milwaukee Police Code of Conduct, Core Value-Integrity” which mandates that department members “obey local ordinances and state and federal laws, whether on or off-duty.”


The now former officer is also facing charges in the sexual assault case, including two counts of second-degree sexual assault, two counts of prostitution and one count of capturing an intimate representation without consent.

A jury trial in the sexual assault case is scheduled to begin in August, Fox6Now notes.


Read more at Fox6Now.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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Thotline Bling: black girl supremacy

It’s so rare that an officer-involved shooting makes it to trial. But considering the victim was armed at one point in this case, I predict it will end much like the others. Unless “justice” shows its true colors.