Former MPD officer charged in shooting of Sylville Smith

Faces first-degree reckless homicide charge

A burned down liquor store is seen after disturbances following the police shooting of a man in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. August 15, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
The OReilly Auto Parts store at 3405 W. Fond du Lac Ave. was badly damaged in a fire during protests Saturday night. (PHOTO: WISN 12 News)
The OReilly Auto Parts store at 3405 W. Fond du Lac Ave. was badly damaged in a fire during the Sherman Park unrest in August. (PHOTO: WISN 12 News)

Dominque Heaggan-Brown, the former Milwaukee police officer who shot and killed Sylville Smith in August, sparking days of unrest in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, has been charged by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office with first-degree reckless homicide, according to a report from WISN-TV Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

See the Channel 12 report for more information about the charge and what the criminal complaint states occurred in the confrontation between Smith and the officer.

Smith’s family released the following statement today: “We appreciate that the District Attorney has shown independence and sound judgment in prosecuting the officer who shot and killed Sylville. We also appreciate that this is but the first step in holding that officer accountable, but a necessary step in bringing some measure of justice. We always believed that Sylville should be alive today, and that this rogue officer was completely wrong. Though the decision to prosecute cannot bring back Sylville, justice is needed for our family as we continue to move through deep grief and seek justice for his wrongful death.”

In August the Milwaukee County medical examiner said that Smith, 23, was shot in the chest and in the right arm, according to another Channel 12 report.

After Smith was shot on Aug. 13 violent protests erupted in the Sherman Park area for two nights. Fires set during the first night of the unrest damaged several businesses in the neighborhood.

“I cannot help but feel some hope that the wheels of justice might finally be grinding into action,” Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey said in a statement. “This is a significant step for the integrity of the justice system in a case that has caused great pain in the Sherman Park neighborhood, and has sent shockwaves throughout our city, state and nation. Through its independent investigation, the state’s Department of Justice has determined that Smith raised his gun and was tossing it away when Officer Heaggan-Brown opened fire on him. Acting on their findings, the District Attorney today announced the charges. I do not think that there can be any doubt that the District Attorney was right to do so. My thoughts are with the Smith family today as their search for truth and rectitude continues. I hope that they find some comfort in the fact that their son’s killer is being prosecuted, and I hope as well that we learn many more of the answers to their questions. We should strive for a world in which no one is above the justice system—especially those who take an oath to protect and serve their community. Today’s decision was a step in that direction, but there remains much work to do.”

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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