A former Milwaukee police officer will go on trial for the shooting death of a black man, attorneys told a judge Thursday, an indication that there’s no plea deal in the works.
Former officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown has pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony reckless homicide in the August death of 23-year-old black man Sylville Smith during a traffic stop. It ignited two nights of riots in Wisconsin’s largest city, unrest that followed deaths of black men at the hands of police in cities from Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore.
The agreement for a June 12 trial came during a hearing to determine how to handle two pending cases against Heaggan-Brown, one for the homicide charge, another for unrelated sexual assault allegations that got him fired in October.
District Attorney John Chisholm and defense attorney Richard Kohn agreed to proceed on the homicide charge first.
“It is my understanding that this case will be tried?” Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Conen said. “Correct,” Chisholm responded. Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, was not present.
There is body camera footage from Heaggan-Brown and his partner of the Aug. 13 shooting, but it has not been publicly released. According to court documents, the videos show Smith fleeing after a traffic stop and turning toward to the officers with a gun. Smith was shot once in his bicep and the second shot occurred less than two seconds later, after Smith was lying on the ground with his hands near his head, according to the criminal complaint against Heaggan-Brown.
After Heaggan-Brown was charged with reckless homicide in December, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said the shooting appeared justified and that there must be more evidence prosecutors haven’t released.
The case that led to Heaggan-Brown’s firing stemmed from an incident the night of Aug. 14. According to a criminal complaint, Heaggan-Brown and another man went to a bar where they drank and watched television coverage of the unrest. The man told investigators that Heaggan-Brown bragged that he could do anything he wanted without repercussions. The man said he later woke up to find Heaggan-Brown sexually assaulting him.
Judge Conen set Aug. 21 as the trial date for that case.
Source: The AP