MILWAUKEE — The Latest on the trial of a former Milwaukee police officer charged in the death of a black man last year (all times local):
The prosecutor who charged a former Milwaukee police officer in the fatal shooting of black man says the man was unarmed and defenseless on the ground when the officer shot him “point blank.”
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm made the comments Tuesday during opening statements in the trial of Dominique Heaggan-Brown. Chisholm says Heaggan-Brown was standing over Sylville Smith when he shot him in the chest. Smith had fled from a traffic stop and had a handgun, but slipped and had thrown the gun away after Heaggan-Brown first shot him in the arm.
Defense attorney Jonathan Smith says Heaggan-Brown “feared for his safety” and thought Sylville was still armed.
Smith’s death ignited riots in the predominantly black neighborhood where he was killed Aug. 13. Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide.
Jurors will hear opening statements Tuesday in the trial of a former Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man last year ignited riots in a predominantly black neighborhood.
Dominique Heaggan-Brown is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Sylville Smith after Smith fled a traffic stop on Aug. 13. Smith was holding a gun and facing Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, when the officer shot him in the arm after Smith slipped and fell. Heaggan-Brown said he thought Smith was reaching for a gun in his waistband when he shot him again, this time in the chest, killing him.
But prosecutors say Smith had thrown his gun over a fence and was unarmed when Heaggan-Brown fired the fatal shot. Both shots happened within two seconds.
The trial will provide the public with the first look at body-camera video of what happened.
Jurors are being sequestered for the duration of the trial, which is expected to last about a week. The jury, which includes four alternates, is comprised of four men and 12 women. Three black men and two black women are on the jury.
Heaggan-Brown faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. He was fired in October after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.
Within hours of Smith’s shooting, demonstrators flocked to the Sherman Park neighborhood and began throwing rocks, bricks, and bottles at police officers. That night and the next, protesters burned eight businesses and a police squad car. When it was over, police had arrested about 40 demonstrators and multiple police officers were hurt.
The violence mirrored unrest that followed the killings of black men by police in other cities, including the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore.