After charges filed in death of Sylville Smith, Mayor Barrett calls for body camera video release

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett addressed the media Thursday afternoon, December 15th after charges were filed against former Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown in connection with the August shooting death of Sylville Smith near 44th and Auer. Barrett once again called for the release of body camera video from this incident.

Mayor Barrett on Thursday said over and over again the evidence that led to charges in this case is a result of body cameras worn by Heaggan-Brown and a second officer who was with him on August 13th -- something Barrett's administration helped implement in the Milwaukee Police Department.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Barrett again on Thursday called for the release of that video. He said he has not seen the footage for himself.

“Up to this point I have not seen the video. I still have not seen the video that Dominique Heaggan-Brown had or the other police officer had, so I cannot at this point speak to the merits of it," Barrett said.

Officials with the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office said Thursday the body camera footage will not be released "pending prosecution in this case."

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Mayor Barrett pointed out that Heaggan-Brown fired two shots that struck Sylville Smith, and Barrett said it was the second shot that the district attorney ruled unwarranted.

“The second shot fired by Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown was the shot that was, from the district attorney’s standpoint, not warranted under the law, thus the decision to charge him with first degree reckless homicide," Barrett said.

The criminal complaint, charging Heaggan-Brown with first-degree reckless homicide says a review of the body camera footage from both officers shows they pursued Smith on foot. According to the complaint, the "video shows Smith slip to the ground as he approaches a chain link fence between two houses. The video shows Smith rise back to his feet with the gun still in his right hand and Smith turns his head and upper body towards the officers. He then raises the gun upward while looking in the direction of the officers and throws the gun over the fence into the yard."

The complaint goes on to say, "while Smith raises his gun upward, P.O. Heaggan-Brown discharges one shot from his service weapon at Smith and Smith falls to the ground on his back." After going to the ground, Smith was unarmed.

Sylville Smith

Sylville Smith

According to the criminal complaint, the body camera video "shows Smith falls to his back, with his legs and arms going up towards his head in what appears to be a half backwards roll. 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."

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

Shooting scene near 44th and Auer, Milwaukee

Shooting scene near 44th and Auer, Milwaukee

The shooting of Sylville Smith led to two nights of unrest in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood in August.

$5.8 million in damage was done to eight businesses.

"The people of Sherman Park didn't deserve this. I think what happened here is the incident took place in Sherman Park. The incident could have taken place anywhere. It became the focus and received a lot of negative attention," Barrett said.

When the unrest began, Mayor Barrett made several comments on the shooting -- referencing a still picture he saw of Smith holding a gun.

On Thursday, he defended those comments -- saying he was only referring to the first shot that was fired.

He said the outcome of this shooting is something that will be debated for years to come.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

"It`s not a happy ending in any, any, any regard. There`s no happy ending in this and there never will be a happy ending in this case, but I think it`s important to see we take our responsibility very seriously, to make sure we have the ability to produce the right evidence to make sure we make the right decision," Mayor Barrett said.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Heaggan-Brown was terminated from the Milwaukee Police Department on October 31st after sexual assault charges were filed against him in a separate case.

"The time-period for him to appeal that firing has now lapsed," Barrett said.

Heaggan-Brown will be in court on the first-degree reckless homicide charge Friday, December 16th.


  • Jim

    Mayor McTrolley is just trolling for votes. He knows damn well the video can’t be released it is evidence & will taint the jury pool if released. Just wants to make sure he hangs on to the black vote to keep suppressing them for four more years the next election

  • Huh !

    I haven’t seen the video, and even if I do, I couldn’t say what the cop was looking at. Body cams aren’t filling in that gray area for me …. The police should be wearing a head mounted camera to at least show where he was looking, not the direction his chest was facing like a body cam shows ! Have you ever looked around a room by moving your head and not moving the rest of your body ?

  • Truth Seeker

    Mayor Barrett is a disgrace to the city of Milwaukee. Useless, never worked in a day in his life. Attends banquet and ribbon cutting ceremonies and promotes his coming useless trolley while Milwaukee is burning just like Rome. Time to have him recalled!

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