US & Canada

Milwaukee officer cleared in shooting that sparked riots

Dominique Heaggan-Brown (L) and Sylville Smith Image copyright Police
Image caption Dominique Heaggan-Brown (L) and Sylville Smith

A former Milwaukee police officer has been acquitted of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting of a black man last year.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown shot and killed Sylville Smith, 23, last August after he fled from police. The death sparked two days of riots in Milwaukee.

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

The case is one of several involving the police shooting of black men that has sparked protests nationwide.

Attorneys for Mr Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, argued that the former officer was forced to make a quick decision during a foot chase with an armed man.

But prosecutors contended that police body camera footage allegedly showed the officer shooting Mr Smith in the chest as he lay on the ground.

Mr Heaggan-Brown shot Mr Smith on his right arm as he threw his gun away and again, in the chest, 1.69 second later, according to investigators.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The police shooting prompted two days of unrest across Milwaukee

A review of the body camera footage showed "that at the time of the second shot, Smith was unarmed and had his hands near his head".

Mr Heaggan-Brown had already been fired from the police force due to a separate investigation accusing him of sexual assault.

He faces a jury trial in August in that case, in which he is accused of raping a man with whom he had been drinking.

He is also accused of offering two other men money for sex and faces one charge of capturing an intimate representation of a person without consent.

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