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Sylville Smith's family's lawyer files lawsuit against city, ex-officer after not guilty verdict

Posted at 3:36 PM, Jun 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-21 23:13:42-04

After former Milwaukee police officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown was found not guilty Wednesday, the attorney for the family of the man he shot and killed said he plans to continue fighting despite the acquittal.

David Owens, the attorney for Sylville Smith’s family, said he has filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee and Heaggan-Brown for the “...egregious violation of civil rights ended in loss of life.”

“While criminal justice is one form of justice, it’s not the only form of justice, and that’s not the end all and be all,” Owens said. “This isn’t an open and shut case.”

The former police officer was charged with reckless homicide after shooting and killing Smith in Sherman Park last summer, which sparked days of unrest in the neighborhood.

“Officer Heaggan-Brown shouldn't have been on force at all,” Owens said. “He shouldn't have on the street that day.”

Owens said he plans to hold the city accountable, and accused Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn of lying to the public, when he said Heaggan-Brown had gone into hiding after the shooting. He also said Heaggan-Brown racked up multiple use of force complaints.

“He was in a bar, bragging, committing other crimes,” Owens said.

Heaggan-Brown also faces sexual assault charges from a separate incident, where he allegedly raped a man two days after the shooting, after they watched coverage of the riots on television at a bar.