A former Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man previous year ignited two days of rioting, with the National Guard being called in, was found not guilty Wednesday of first-degree reckless homicide.
The encounter started as a traffic stop and turned into a foot chase.
The prosecutor argued that Heaggan-Brown fatally shot Smith as the suspect attempted to surrender.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said in a statement via Twitter, "A year ago I told the public I'd seen nothing in the video that was a violation of the law or policy". "And our argument is that justification did not change over the course of 1.69 seconds between shots".
Smith's shooting triggered two nights of protests last August, during which police arrested at least 14 people as protesters reportedly burned businesses and attacked news reporters.
The officer was sacked from the Milwaukee Police Department in October following unrelated sexual assault charges. The crimes are not connected to Smith's death, but they are the reason he was sacked from the Milwaukee police force.
The first shot fired by Heaggan-Brown was justified, Chisholm said, because Smith was holding the gun.
Heaggan-Brown was sacked two months later after he was charged in an unrelated sexual assault.
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Sylville Smith was killed in August 2016.
He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide.
The key piece of evidence in the case was never-before-released police body camera video, both from Heaggan-Brown and another officer on the scene. Heaggan-Brown chose not to testify.
Data shows 82 officers nationwide have been charged with murder or manslaughter for on-duty fatal shootings since 2005, said Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio's Bowling Green State University. Heaggan-Brown and two officers were making their way back to their district station when they made a decision to initiate one last traffic stop.
Heaggan-Brown had previously said he believed Smith "was reaching for his waist so he discharged his weapon a second time".
Smith then fell to the ground and was unarmed, but Heaggan-Brown fired a second shot at Smith's chest, according to the criminal complaint. Prosecutors contend Smith was defenseless when Heaggan-Brown shot him in the chest because Smith had thrown his gun over a fence. It was later determined that Heaggan-Brown's first shot struck Smith in his right bicep area with the bullet passing through Smith's bicep and lodging in a window casement to the east of the shooting. According to Fox6, jurors also had the option to pick from two lesser charges instead of first-degree reckless homicide.
And all six Baltimore officers charged over the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, due to spinal cord injuries suffered in the back of a police van, were eventually cleared. Four of the jurors are African-American.