A fired Milwaukee police officer who shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith was found not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide on Wednesday, reports CNN.
If you think that Dominique Heaggan-Brown lost his job because of the Smith case, that would be incorrect. He was fired from the department for an unrelated sexual assault investigation. He still faces charges related to that.
CNN reports that members of Smith’s family could be heard crying in the courtroom as the verdict was read. The shooting death sparked days of unrest in Milwaukee in August 2016. CNN reports:
The prosecutor argued that Heaggan-Brown fatally shot Smith as the suspect attempted to surrender. But the former officer’s attorney countered that his client made a split-second decision to protect his life and that of another officer.
The jury began deliberations on Tuesday, less than a year after the shooting in northwest Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood.
Heaggan-Brown, 25, faced 60 years in prison.
Body-camera video from another officer—played for the jury last week—showed that Heaggan-Brown shot a second bullet into Smith’s chest after the suspect hurled his weapon over a fence and had his hands near his head. Smith was on the ground when he received the fatal shot.
“Mr. Heaggan-Brown knew at the time he fired that second shot that Sylville Smith had already disarmed himself,” Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told the jury. “He knew that Sylville Smith was attempting to surrender.”
Willis testified that Heaggan-Brown acted in “accordance with his training,” CNN affiliate WTMJ-TV reported.
Last week, members of Sylville Smith’s family gasped as body camera footage of the August 13 foot chase was played in court. The defense attorney called for a mistrial, saying the family’s response could influence the jury, but the judge denied the request.
Heaggan-Brown is the third U.S. law enforcement officer to be tried for a shooting in the last week.
On Friday, Minnesota police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of one count of second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year. In Cincinnati, a jury began deliberations Monday in the retrial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing in the fatal shooting of Samuel Dubose during a July 2015 traffic stop.
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