Milwaukee ex-cop who fatally shot Sylville Smith found not guilty

Dominique Heaggan-Brown right and his attorney Jonathan C. Smith left watch the power point presentation of use of force expert Robert C. Willis on a video screen during the trial of former Milwaukee officer Heaggan Brown Monday

Dominique Heaggan-Brown right and his attorney Jonathan C. Smith left watch the power point presentation of use of force expert Robert C. Willis on a video screen during the trial of former Milwaukee officer Heaggan Brown Monday

A jury in Milwaukee has acquitted former officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown of a reckless homicide charge over the fatal shooting of Sylville Smith last August.

The department alleged that Smith ran during a police stop and that he refused to drop a stolen gun on Heaggan-Brown's orders.

Defense attorney Jonathan Smith stated, "Obviously, everyone recognizes there was a loss of life, and I don't think any officer would want to be put in that situation and to have to make those decisions that he did, but those decisions were made, and I think the jury properly evaluated them".

Body-camera video showed Heaggan-Brown shooting Smith once in the arm as he appeared to be throwing the gun away.

He testified that the defendant acted in accordance with his training because officers are trained to assume that a suspect with one weapon may be carrying a second.

Previously, a 2014 police shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, who is black, prompted protests.

"Hollow-point bullets are created to inflict damage on the people they hit and, though outlawed by the Geneva conventions, are used by the Milwaukee Police Department", the lawsuit states.

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office shows Sylville Smith.

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Prosecutors focused on the second of two shots aimed at Smith, saying he was no longer armed by that time and the officer should not have fired again. Prosecutors argued Smith was defenseless.

The verdict - the second acquittal in a week of a police officer facing criminal charges for a fatal shooting, was announced in a tense, emotional courtroom after less than 10 hours of deliberations.

The shots, 1.7 seconds apart, ended the brief foot chase that lasted 12 seconds. The civil suit says he should never have been hired as an officer due to that and other incidents like speeding and marijuana possession since he became a police aide in 2010 and a full fledged officer in 2015. The resulting first-degree reckless homicide case revolved around the question of whether the officer was acting in self defense.

"There is not joy in a case like this", said Steven Kohn, one of Heaggan-Brown's attorneys, after the verdict.

The officer was sacked from the Milwaukee Police Department in October following unrelated sexual assault charges. The officer moved his hand away from Smith's waist, according to court documents. Heaggan-Brown and two officers were making their way back to their district station when they made a decision to initiate one last traffic stop.

During the trial, Heaggan-Brown's lawyer told the jury that the "first shot was a justifiable shot and that justification did not change in 1.69 seconds", The Associated Press reported.

Malafa's body camera footage was played several times in court, according to WTMJ.

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