Former police officer pleads not guilty to charge in fatal shooting of Sylville Smith

MILWAUKEE -- Former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown entered on Friday, December 23rd a plea of not guilty to a first-degree reckless homicide charge in the fatal shooting of Sylville Smith in August. The charge which comes with a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Heaggan-Brown also waived his right to a preliminary hearing -- and the court bound him over for trial. Heaggan-Brown will be back in court on January 12, 2017.

According to the criminal complaint, Heaggan-Brown, 24, and another officer were in the neighborhood near 44th and Auer around 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, August 13th. The complaint indicates "two male subjects fled from a vehicle and were pursued" by the officers. One individual, Smith, "was armed with a semi-automatic pistol and was subsequently shot two times by P.O. Heaggan-Brown." Smith later died from his injuries.

smith

"Do you understand if you had a hearing the state would have to produce witnesses and perhaps other evidence to show that you probably committed a felony," asked the judge.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

"Yes," replied Heaggan-Brown.

With that, Heaggan-Brown was taken back to jail until his next court date next month.

"The criminal complain stands on its own, no surprises here. Nothing is being hidden and I suspect he will put up a vigorous defense and we are prepared to try out case," said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

What happened at the hearing that was not seen, is that the DA says he turned over his reports and the body camera video to Heaggan-Brown's lawyer so they can prepare his case.

 

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Dominique Heaggan-Brown

"The only time I will ever put out the evidence to this case is within the context of the litigation itself," said Chisholm.

The brother of Sylville Smith says he wants the video released.

"The public needs to see what type of police we have on the streets today. What type of law enforcement we have sworn to protect us," said Sedan Smith, Sylville Smith's brother.

Heaggan-Brown's lawyer told FOX6 News on Friday, he has seen the body camera video of the incident but would not comment further. The District Attorney's Office is still not releasing it to the public and won't throughout this case unless it's part of evidence in the trial.

The District Attorney says if Heaggan-Brown would not have waived his right to a preliminary hearing, he was prepared to show the video -- or at least parts of it.

The criminal complaint details the events of the day Smith was shot. The complaint says both Heaggan-Brown and the second officer were wearing body cameras during this incident. 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."

Sylville SmithThe 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.

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."

The complaint says the "elapsed time between the discharge of the first shot and the second shot by P.O. Heaggan-Brown was determined to be 1.69 seconds."

Monitor FOX6 News and FOX6Now.com for updates on this developing story.

3 comments

  • Gary Hamilton

    I’m not a fan of this police officer because of the charges against him for the separate incident. But this former officer is innocent in the Smith incident. Smith was a thus who pointed his gun at a Police Officer. Ho long realistically is 1.6 second, when you are under the stress of shooting a piece of trash like Smith who is pointing a gun at you. This is just far left politics once again. Protect the criminal element in every way and then wonder why the city of Milwaukee has gone to hell.

  • Pixillator

    They should remove all tattoos and fix their hair before taking pictures. This is offensive to all the pixels on screens.

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