MILWAUKEE (AP) — A former Milwaukee police officer acquitted of fatally shooting a black man, sparking two nights of riots, pleaded guilty Thursday to lesser charges in sexual assault cases that had gotten him fired.
Under the deal with Dominique Heaggan-Brown, prosecutors dropped the most serious charges of second-degree sexual assault. He pleaded guilty to soliciting prostitution and obtaining someone's image without their consent, and he pleaded no contest to one count of false imprisonment. He faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 20. He had faced decades in prison if convicted of sexual assault.
In June, a jury acquitted Heaggan-Brown for killing 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a brief foot chase on Aug. 13, 2016. Smith was armed, but prosecutors who charged Heaggan-Brown with first-degree reckless homicide argued the officer was unjustified in using deadly force because Smith was throwing his gun over a fence.
Heaggan-Brown's attorneys, however, said their client made a split-second decision to defend himself. Both Smith and Heaggan-Brown are black, but the shooting the predominantly African-American neighborhood where it happened stirred the long-held distrust in police by minorities in the city.
One of the sexual assault charges stemmed from a case that happened one day after Smith's shooting. The victim in that case told police Heaggan-Brown, 26, assaulted him after a night of drinking at a bar where they watched coverage of the ongoing riots.
Using photographs and other data from the officer's cellphone, prosecutors determined Heaggan-Brown sexually assaulted another unconscious victim in July 2016. Prosecutors say Heaggan-Brown also photographed that victim naked without the person's consent.
Data from the cellphone also led prosecutors to charge Heaggan-Brown with soliciting prostitutes.