Former Milwaukee officer charged with reckless homicide

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Dominique Heaggan-Brown, right, is charged with first degree reckless homicide for the shooting death of Sylville Smith, left. (Photo: Facebook)

A former police officer was charged with murder Thursday for an August shooting of a black man that sparked riots in Milwaukee.

The former officer, 24-year-old Dominique Heaggan-Brown, is also black. According to a criminal complaint filed Thursday, Heaggan-Brown chased 23-year-old Sylville Smith on Aug. 13 after Smith ran from a traffic stop. Smith had a stolen handgun, and tossed it over a fence while looking back at Heaggan-Brown. In that moment, the former officer shot Smith and hit him in the arm. Smith fell to the ground and was unarmed when Heaggan-Brown fired a second shot, hitting him in the chest and killing him.

Heaggan-Brown said he fired the second shot because he thought Smith was reaching for another weapon. Body camera footage from that day has not been released.

In a rap video produced by Heaggan-Brown, he said if you “mess with my circle, I’m gonna start a riot like it’s Baltimore.”

On the night after the shooting, as the city rioted, Heaggan-Brown was drinking with a man he met at a bar and watching the coverage on television, according to prosecutors. He told the man he could do anything he wanted without repercussions. That night, he allegedly sexually assaulted the man. Heaggan-Brown has been in jail since October for charges related to that incident, as well as allegations he hired prostitutes and recorded nudity illegally. The police department fired him on Oct. 31.

Milwaukee saw two days of rioting in which people threw rocks and bottles at police and burned six businesses and a squad car. On the second night, a man was shot. Police Chief Edward Flynn blamed outsiders for the unrest.

Heaggan-Brown is due in court Friday. Charged with first-degree reckless homicide, he could face up to 60 years in prison if convicted.