“This isn’t over:” Family of Sylville Smith files civil lawsuit against former officer, city

MILWAUKEE -- The family of a man slain by a Milwaukee police officer has filed a civil lawsuit against the former officer and the city.

Attorney David Owens

Attorney David Owens announced the lawsuit Wednesday, June 21st -- minutes after a jury acquitted Dominique Heaggan-Brown in the death of Sylville Smith. Heaggan-Brown shot a fleeing Smith last August, setting off two nights of violence on the city's north side.

A prosecutor charged Heaggan-Brown with reckless homicide, arguing that Smith no longer had a gun and was defenseless when he was shot a second a time. But the jury disagreed.

Sherelle Smith and Patrick Smith, Sylville Smith's sister and father

"We not animals. Every time they take a shot is to kill you," Patrick Smith, Sylville Smith's father said after the verdict was handed down.

"Don't give them a reason to take your life. If you can change it, just change it. Stop giving them a reason to take your life," Sherelle Smith, Sylville Smith's sister said.

Owens says it's become clear since the shooting that Heaggan-Brown never should have been on the force. The officer was fired two months after the shooting when he was charged in an unrelated sexual assault.

Sylville Smith's family, supporters emotional after not guilty verdict handed down for Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Sylville Smith's family, supporters emotional after not guilty verdict handed down for Dominique Heaggan-Brown

Courthouse after verdict handed down for Dominique Heaggan-Brown

"While criminal justice is one form of justice, it's not the only form of justice. It's not the end all and be all," Owens said. "This isn't over at all, by any means. In fact, this is just a new beginning."

Dominique Heaggan-Brown, Sylville Smith