Jury selection begins in Milwaukee police officer shooting case

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 12, 2017 3:57 PM

By Chris Kenning

(Reuters) - Jury selection began on Monday in the trial of a former Milwaukee police officer whose fatal shooting of a black man last year sparked two nights of rioting.

Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of 23-year-old Sylville Smith following an Aug. 13 traffic stop.

Police said Smith was armed and ignored commands to drop his gun.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Conen denied a request by Heaggan-Brown's lawyers to delay the case for fear that a jury could be tainted by high emotions sparked by another officer-involved shooting that occurred Sunday night in Milwaukee, according to the court clerk.

Two people were hospitalized after they were wounded when a Milwaukee County Sheriff's Deputy fired into an SUV following a pursuit, according to Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Details on the man and woman involved have not been disclosed.

Heaggan-Brown's attorney could not be reached on Monday. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm declined to comment on the case, according to his office.

After Smith was shot last year, the resulting violence during protests left businesses burned, police cars damaged and officers injured.

Heaggan-Brown was fired from the police force in October over unrelated sexual assault charges. He was charged with assaulting a man a day after he fatally shot Smith.

Heaggan-Brown also was charged with having sex with prostitutes and sexually assaulting another person between December 2015 and July 2016, court records said.

The case is one of several ongoing trials involving fatal police shootings of black men. Others include the retrial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing, charged in the 2015 murder of an unarmed black motorist, and the trial of Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the death of black motorist Philando Castile last year.

(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)