Milwaukee police chief concerned about murder charges facing former officer

  • Milwaukee police chief concerned about murder charges facing former officer

Milwaukee police chief concerned about murder charges facing former officer

A Milwaukee police officer charged with killing a black man in August fired the fatal shot after the man had thrown his gun away and was unarmed, according to court documents.

District Attorney John Chisholm said he's confident the facts support the felony reckless homicide charge against Dominique Heaggan-Brown.

Chisholm said he knows police shootings of African-Americans like Smith are a national issue, but says the Milwaukee case is not the forum for a message.

The second shot, which hit Smith in the chest, was sacked after Smith tossed the gun and fell to the ground, his hands near his head.

Police Chief Ed Flynn questioned Chisholm's decision as early as Thursday evening, saying Heaggan-Brown faced a "combat situation". According to a criminal complaint, Smith fled during a traffic stop with a gun in his hand. Smith then threw gun over a fence into a nearby yard as the first shot was sacked.

Chisholm did just that Thursday morning, when he quietly filed the felony reckless homicide charge against Heaggan-Brown. Heaggan-Brown and his partner's body cameras showed Smith fall to the ground, get up and raise his gun while facing Heaggan-Brown, the complaint said.

Heaggan-Brown said he thought Smith was reaching for another weapon in his waistband so he fired the second time.

Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters Thursday that it appears the first shot was justified but the second wasn't. The chief said then that he had seen the body camera video but did not mention that Smith was unarmed when the second shot was sacked and said it appeared to him the shooting was lawful.

Heaggan-Brown's attorney, Jonathan Smith, says he hasn't seen any of the state's evidence but that the criminal complaint raises issues. He didn't elaborate but did promise a "vigorous" defense.

The Smith family statement called the charge "the first step in holding that officer accountable". In that moment, the former officer shot Smith and hit him in the arm.

"I think it is much more of concern that our client get a fair trial than that the media broadcast this video or any piece of evidence that is going to cause him not to have a fair trial", Kohn said.

Heaggan-Brown was sacked in October after he was accused in an alleged sexual assault.

A criminal complaint says body-camera video shows Smith was raising a handgun when he was shot the first time in his bicep, but was unarmed when he was shot a second time in the chest. The district attorney said he understands Flynn's perspective but stressed he made the charging decision based on the facts. Barrett told reporters on Thursday that he still hasn't seen the video and called on prosecutors to release it. Six businesses were burned along with a squad auto. More violence broke out the next night, with one man being shot and injured and protesters again throwing rocks and bottles at officers. About 40 people in all were arrested in the three nights following Smith's death.

Smith's slaying set off two nights of unrest on Milwaukee's north side.

Heaggan-Brown has said he and his partner were patrolling in the 3200 block of N. 44th St. about 3 p.m. August 13 when he saw a vehicle with an out-of-state license plate and a person leaning into the passenger window of the auto. According to a criminal complaint, Heaggan-Brown and another man went to a bar where they drank and watched television coverage of the unrest. He told the man he could do anything he wanted without repercussions.

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