Dominique Heaggan-Brown charged with first-degree reckless homicide for the death of Sylville Smith

Thursday morning, the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office announced they were filing formal First Degree Reckless Homicide charges against Dominique Heaggan-Brown, a former Milwaukee police officer.

Back in August, Heaggan-Brown was on patrol when he noticed a car with out-of-state plates near 44th and Auer. Court documents also say Heaggan-Brown saw an individual leaning over into the passenger window and believed some type of illegal drug activity might have been taking place.

When Heaggan-Brown attempted to investigate, the driver, later identified as Sylville Smith, got out of the car and took off running.

"The video (body camera video) shows Smith slip on the ground as he approaches a chain link fence between two houses," court documents indicated. "The video shows Smith rise back to his feet with a 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 and into a yard."

As Smith was tossing the gun over the fence, Heaggan-Brown fired one shot, striking him in the arm.

"I believe the district attorney would not have filed charges had their only been one shot," Mayor Tom Barrett said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Just over a second and a half later, Heaggan-Brown fired a second time, striking Smith in the chest.

"Smith was unarmed at the time of the second shot," court documents said.

The other officer on scene did not open fire, and court documents confirm Smith's gun never discharged.

"Once of the important parts of this investigation centered around the body cameras that were worn," Barrett said. "Had this (incident) happened 10 or 15 years ago, we would not have that evidence."

While Police Chief Ed Flynn does not want to butt heads with the district attorney, he says more context needs to be provided about the timeline between when the two shots were fired.

"Two shots were fired in 1.69 seconds and one is legal and one is not," Flynn said. "That's a little difficult to understand or explain quite honestly."

Flynn wants the public to understand officers are often put in life and death situations and stated that 1.69 seconds to process thoughts equates to less than two heartbeats.

The shooting death of Syville Smith was captured on two body cameras.

That footage has not been released.

Mayor Tom Barrett says he fully supports the release of the video footage.

The district attorney's office has not provided any comment related to their decision to charge Heaggan-Brown.

Heaggan-Brown has been in jail since October on unrelated sexual assault and prostitution charges.

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