Milwaukee ex-cop who fatally shot Sylville Smith found not guilty

He shot and killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith following a foot chase last summer, igniting two days of violence in the city's Sherman Park neighborhood.

Smith was killed in August 2016 after fleeing a traffic stop.

However, defense attorneys countered that Heaggan-Brown was forced to make a split-second decision after encountering the initially armed Smith during a foot chase that followed a traffic stop, Fox6 notes.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, in a statement via Twitter, said, "A year ago I told the public I'd seen nothing in the video that was a violation of the law or policy". They could have opted for second-degree reckless homicide or homicide by negligent operation of a unsafe weapon, but jurors acquitted Heaggan-Brown on those charges, too. Prosecution argued that the second shot was unnecessary because Smith had tossed his gun away by that point.

Smith's death at the hands of Heaggan-Brown on August 13 sparked two nights of rioting in the Sherman Park neighborhood and highlighted the strained relationship between police and African-Americans in the city.

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Heaggan-Brown was sacked from the police force in October after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm told jurors Heaggan-Brown didn't need to use deadly force against Smith, who had thrown away the gun he was carrying.

Heaggan-Brown faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted. The sexual assault case wasn't mentioned during the trial because it's being tried separately. P.O. Heaggan-Brown is observed standing a short distance from Smith with his weapon pointed down at Smith when Heaggan-Brown discharges a second shot from his weapon at what appears to be Smith's chest. "The state admits that the first shot was a justified shot", defense attorney Jonathan Smith said. Heaggan-Brown's acquittal came less than a week after a Minnesota officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted in the shooting death of a black motorist seconds after the motorist informed him he had a gun. "I really don't want them to act irrationally toward the cops, because all cops ain't bad", he said. Smith and Heaggan-Brown are both black. Smith, who was armed with a handgun, ran away from the officers when he saw them exit their squad auto. The trial judge is also allowing jurors to consider two lesser charges: second-degree reckless homicide, and reckless use of a firearm.

The jury that acquitted Heaggan-Brown consisted of nine women and three men.

The 12 person jury, which included four blacks, sided with the defense.

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