Police and Law Enforcement

Sylville Smith shooting: Milwaukee officer acquitted

A former Milwaukee police officer has been acquitted of reckless homicide in the fatal shooting of a black man that sparked riots last summer.

Jurors in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Wednesday found that former officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was justified when he shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith following a traffic stop in August.

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Heaggan-Brown fatally shot Smith after Smith ran away from the traffic stop with a gun. During the foot chase, prosecutors claimed, Smith threw his gun over a fence and was defenseless when the officer shot him.

Defense attorneys for Heaggan-Brown argued he had to act quickly to defend himself from Smith.

Heaggan-Brown and two other officers had approached Smith's rental car on August 13, where they believed a drug deal was happening.

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The shooting death of Smith sparked two nights of riots in the predominantly black Sherman Park neighborhood. 

Heaggan-Brown was fired two months after the shooting when he was charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.

The Associated Press contributed to this report