Milwaukee ex-cop charged with black man's shooting death

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2016 1:06 PM

(Reuters) - A former Milwaukee police officer was charged on Thursday in the fatal shooting of a black man that sparked riots in the Wisconsin city for two nights in August.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, was charged by District Attorney John Chisholm with first-degree reckless homicide, according to an online filing in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

Heaggan-Brown is scheduled for an initial appearance on Friday, the filing said. A defense lawyer was not named.

Two nights of rioting erupted in August after Heaggan-Brown, who is also African-American, fatally shot Sylville Smith, 23, after a traffic stop. Police have said Smith was armed and ignored commands to drop his gun before he was shot.

Heaggan-Brown was fired from the police department in October in an unrelated case over sexual assault charges.

Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn said that he was working under the assumption that there was more evidence that informed the district attorney's decision to charge Heaggan-Brown with reckless homicide than what was presented in the charging document.

"Quite honestly, looking at that document and the fact that two shots fired in 1.69 seconds and one is legal and one is not, that's a little bit difficult to understand or explain to the rank and file quite honestly," he told members of the media on Thursday evening.

"Clearly there must be additional information beyond what is in the document," he said.

Flynn had said previously that he believed the video showed Heaggan-Brown acting within the law and on Thursday he reiterated that he stood by that assessment.

Police killings of African-Americans in the United States have triggered public protests in recent years which have sometimes turned violent and have ignited a national debate over race and policing.

According to a Washington Post database, 912 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States so far this year. It also showed 991 people were shot and killed by U.S. police in 2015.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington, additional reporting by Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago; editing by G Crosse)