Saturday, 22 July, 2017

Former Milwaukee Police officer found not guilty in fatal shooting

Roland Mccarthy | 22 June, 2017, 05:59

A former Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man past year ignited two days of rioting, with the National Guard being called in, was found not guilty Wednesday of first-degree reckless homicide.

Smith was killed in August 2016 after fleeing a traffic stop.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm told reporters he respected the jury's decision and the body camera that provided footage of the shooting was itself a step towards greater police accountability. Prosecutors contended Smith didn't pose a threat before Heaggan-Brown fired again.

The shots, 1.7 seconds apart, ended the brief foot chase that lasted 12 seconds.

Smith's death at the hands of Heaggan-Brown on August 13 sparked two nights of rioting in the Sherman Park neighborhood and highlighted the strained relationship between police and African-Americans in the city.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the police force in October over unrelated sexual assault charges.

Attorneys for a former Milwaukee police officer acquitted in the fatal shooting of a black man say the officer always believed he was justified in using deadly force.

"That first shot was a justifiable shot and that justification did not change in 1.69 seconds", Smith said, alluding to the time that transpired before the first and second shot. Heaggan-Brown was facing 60 years in prison if he was convicted. The sexual assault case wasn't mentioned during the trial because it's being tried separately.

Sylville Smith's father Patrick Smith made a similar plea for peace. 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.

Heaggan-Brown's attorneys argued that he acted in self-defense and was forced to make a quick decision about whether to shoot.

The family's attorney, David Owen, said he has filed a lawsuit against Heaggan-Brown and the city of Milwaukee.

Jurors have reached a verdict in the trial of a former Milwaukee police officer charged in a fatal shooting that sparked unrest in a predominantly black neighborhood where it happened last summer. Heaggan-Brown and two officers were making their way back to their district station when they chose to initiate one last traffic stop.

Body-camera video showed Smith was unarmed and on the ground with his hands near his head when he was shot a second time in the chest, according to the criminal complaint.

Mr Smith was armed with a pistol, but threw it over a fence before his death.

While activist groups such as Black Lives Matter have drawn attention to police shootings in recent years, acquittals of police officers have become all but expected in these sorts of incidents.

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