A police officer who sparked unrest in Milwaukee after fatally shooting a man in August has been arrested on unrelated sexual assault charges after police say he raped a man he watched the protests with at a bar.
Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown is accused of second-degree sexual assault. He is accused of sexually assaulting the victim after they took shots at a bar during the second night of the protests over the shooting Heaggan-Brown was involved in, WISN-TV reports.
Heaggan-Brown, 24, received death threats after his identity leaked on social media, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Heaggan-Brown, an aspiring rapper, fatally shot Sylville Smith, sparking riots in Milwaukee that left several officers injured, police cars destroyed and buildings burned. He was high school classmates with Smith.
“Officer Dominique Brown Heaggan killed #Syvillie (sic),” one Facebook post read. “Yall know what to do.. Blast this!! #F**kEm #FTP (f*ck the police).”
Smith, 23, was fatally shot while fleeing from a traffic stop on August 13. Police say Smith, who had a criminal record, was armed with a stolen handgun. Protests Saturday afternoon turned into riots, with at least seven fires set, 17 people arrested and multiple officers injured. Governor Scott Walker activated the National Guard as a precaution on Sunday.
On Monday, Smith’s sister, Sherelle Smith, told WITI-TV her brother and the officer kew each other.
“The boy knew my brother personally from high school. They knew each other. You knew exactly how my brother was and you shot and killed him,” Smith told the news station. A source confirmed to WITI that Sylville Smith and Heaggan-Brown attended Pulaski High School together.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Is Accused of Offering to Pay 2 Men for Sex & of Taking Explicit Photos With Another Man Who Had Passed Out, Police Say
Dominique Heaggan-Brown is also facing a separate charge of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of prostitution, WISN-TV reports.
In the other sexual assault case, he is accused of taking sexually explicit photos with another man after the victim passed out. The photos were found on his phone, police said.
The prostitution charges involve allegations that he offered two men money for sex on separate occasions dating back to December 2015, WISN-TV reports.
Police said Heaggan-Brown met the victim in the first sexual assault case on Facebook while looking for help with his music career. They went out drinking and news of the shooting of Sylville Smith was on television, according to the criminal complaint obtained by WISN.
The victim told police Heaggan-Brown bragged about being able to do whatever he wanted without repercussions.
The man was later taken to the hospital by Heaggan-Brown, who said the victim was “completely out, zoned out of his gourd,” but the man told hospital staff “he raped me. He raped me,” when he woke up, according to police.
Heaggan-Brown texted a mentor, Sergeant Joseph Hall, after the incident, and wrote “Need your help big time… (Expletive) up big time… But need to handle this the most secret and right way possible,” according to the Journal Sentinel.
He told Hall the sex was consensual, but “the (alleged victim) was drunk and had ‘medical issues.'”
Heaggan-Brown is facing up to 90 years in prison, had already been placed on paid administrative leave after the Smith shooting. He is being held on $100,000 bail and appeared in court for the first time Thursday.
The investigation is being conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation. The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office will then review its findings.
Officials have not said how long it could take for the investigation into the Smith shooting to be completed.
Smith’s sister, Sherelle Smith, told WITI-TV that she doesn’t trust the investigation and said that even if her brother was armed with a gun, the shooting was not justified.
“If my brother did have his gun in his hand, why he didn’t shoot back? If he’s gonna go out, why not go out with a fight? Why not go out with a big bang?” Sherelle Smith said. “If we don’t have answers, we’re gonna find them and we’re gonna find them our way. We’re not find them y’all way no more. We’re not gonna compromise no more.”
2. Heaggan, Known as KB Domo, Once Rapped ‘Mess With My Circle Imma Start a Riot Like It’s Baltimore’
In addition to being a police officer, Dominique Heaggan is an amateur rapper, using the names KB Domo and Lil Nique. He has been rapping since he was 11, according to a Facebook post about a 2012 talent show he was participating in.
He appeared in a music video by Dae Flywalker in 2015, in which he rapped, “mess with my circle imma start a riot like it’s Baltimore.” The lyric was a reference to the unrest that followed the death of Freddie Gray, who died of injuries sustained while in police custody in April 2015.
You can watch the video above.
Flywalker talked to the Milwaukee music website Breaking and Entering about Heaggan. He said he has known him since they were kids and was “shocked” when he heard about his involvement in the shooting.
“I was aware that he was an officer like most people. When we did have a chance to hang out it was pure kicking it, or he would pop up at some of my shows in support sometimes,” Flywalker said. “With him working the job he works and the hours he put in and me being focused on my music career and work in the community, we didn’t get the opportunity (to talk about his police career).”
Flywalker said it was Heaggan who got him into music.
“We did the ‘Monster’ freestyle last year and other music prior. He’s the one who got me rapping in the first place. I decided to have him on ‘Monster”’because of that very reason. I was working on my first project #DIVMONDS and felt it was only right that he be featured seeing that he was the one who introduced me to all of this and had retired from pursuing music himself in favor of his new career,” he told the music website.
According to a 2012 Facebook post about a talent show he was participating in, Heaggan also lived in Rockford, Illinois, and founded the music group Young World Order:
While currently still doing shows and working on his upcoming mix tape, he is still working a full time job and going to school. He has traveled and did music in Chicago, Rockford, Beloit, Waukesha, Atlanta, Pewaukee, and many other cities to name. He does Music for all crowds whether its pop, females, children, adults, or whatever the crown may be. It is important that you sale to all crowds because the more universal your music becomes, the more it is respected and will sale. He currently went solo because of the group Young World Order was having complications in early March of 2012. He started realizing that music has a lot to do with business so now he is currently working on a solo project which is different for him to do.
The shooting of Sylville Smith led to unrest in the city Saturday night, with several buildings, including a gas station, auto-parts store, hair salon, bank and liquor stores set on fire.
Shots could be heard being fired near the scene of the shooting, and multiple police vehicles were damaged. One was set on fire and two others were hit by rocks and other debris, sending one officer to the hospital with a head injury. Three other officers were also hospitalized.
Rioters were firing shots, and first responders were unable to render aid to burning businesses, reported WTMJ.
Assistant Police Chief James Harpole said there were three people who were in the gas station when it was set ablaze, and all were able to safely escape.
As the chaos unfolded, officers got into their cars trying to leave when people in the crowd started smashing the windows of their squad cars.
Officers in riot gear moved cautiously into an intersection of the chaos later in the night, and told a crowd to disperse. Rioters reportedly threw rocks at police as they held up their shields, according to CBS.
Bus shelters were torn from the ground littering the street with shattered glass.
Crowds chased reporters and a photographer from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, punching one reporter to the ground, the newspaper reported.
Photos and videos from Sunday morning showed the damage caused by the fires:
Heavy spoke with a man, Tory Lowe, who was at the scene after the riots began. “This is after years of abuse by the police from 2011 until now,” one person who was at the scene, Tory Lowe, told Heavy. “It has built up for so long, and now people are acting on it.”
When asked if he condoned the violence, Lowe stated:
I don’t condone it. But I understand it. People are upset over the deaths of, let me see…we’ve got Derek Williams, James Perry, Corey Stingley, Brandon Johnson and Dontre Hamilton. Over 101 black men were illegally strip searched in Milwaukee. I’m talking pulling their pants down sticking their hands in their anal cavity with no gloves or anything. I’m talking about how bad it has been from 2011 until now.
He said citizens of Milwaukee are fighting for justice for these men, who were all killed by police or “failed by the system in Milwaukee.”
3. He Has Been a Milwaukee Officer Since 2013 After Working as a Police Aide
Dominique Heaggan has worked for the Milwaukee Police Department for six years, officials said at a press conference. He first worked as a police aide, before graduating from the police academy in 2013.
He was praised by the police department in 2014 after he and his partner bought dinner for a homeless woman and found shelter for her, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported at the time.
Heaggan was assigned to District 7, police said.
He had his probationary period extended 97 days later in 2014 after he had to be placed on limited duty, according to a letter sent to the city’s Fire and Police Commission by Chief Edward Flynn. The letter does not detail why he was on limited duty.
Flynn wrote in the letter that Heaggan had been hired as a police aide on July 26, 2010:
On August 4, 2013, he was appointed to the rank of Police Officer, beginning a 16-month probationary period, and was assigned to recruit training at the Police Academy. Officer Heaggan is currently assigned to District No. 7. Officer Heaggan was placed on limited duty for a period of 97 days during his probationary period. If this extension is approved, his probationary period will end on March 11, 2015.
Extending Officer Heaggan’s probationary period will allow Department supervisors the ability to properly evaluate his performance on the same basis as other probationary Police Officers. I feel this extension request is reasonable in both purpose and duration for the aforementioned reason.
The request was granted by the commission.
There have been no official complaints filed against him, the Fire and Police Commission said at a Tuesday meeting, the Journal Sentinel reports.
The commission also said Sylville Smith had not filed a complaint against Heaggan or any officer. Smith’s family has said he had a lawsuit pending against the department, but the Journal Sentinel reports there are no state or federal court records to corroborate that claim.
4. His Address Was Posted to Facebook & Some on Social Media Have Threatened to ‘Drop Him’ if He Is Seen in the City
Heaggan has been the target of social media threats after his name and address were posted on Facebook in the days after the shooting, according to the Journal Sentinel.
“Now y’all see his face if he’s seen anywhere in the city drop him,” one post said, according to the newspaper. Another person asked for a gun to “shoot him right in his head.”
Another person wrote, “He sent me to jail unlawfully!!! Do whatever y’all need to do to this man.”
Other posts included, “He a thug too he just got a badge on,” “they coming for yo a** Mr. Postman,” and “he might as well leave the city. I feel for dude if he caught on the street by somebody lol they not gone play with him.”
Others shared stories about interactions with Heaggan, and made claims that he had a personal vendetta against Smith.
Deandre Ueal, 25, who knew both Heaggan and Smith, told the newspaper he had seen Heaggan and another officer patrolling on bicycle, shining lights in cars and ordering people out.
“He seemed like he was so eager to get somebody in trouble, mess with someone. Too eager,” Ueal told the Journal Sentinel. “He grew up rough. We all grew up rough. We all grew up in poverty, so it was kind of hard.”
Ueal wrote on Facebook, “When everybody said a young black new cop shot Syville. This dude popped in my mind for real for real. him & another young cop be over here where we live messing with ppl & pulling them out they cars. Smh dude be too thirsty & he knew Syville.”
Heaggan left the city because of the threats, WTMJ-TV reports.
“MPD has noted a disturbing national trend where users of social media have identified officers involved in uses of deadly force, threatened the officers and their families, and demonized them,” the department said in a statement. “Locally, we are aware of some general threats against our officers. MPD takes these threats seriously and is investigating.”
5. Officials Say Body Camera Footage, Which Hasn’t Been Made Public, Shows Smith Had a Gun in His Hand
Milwaukee Police say the incident began when two uniformed officers stopped a car with two people inside in the 3200 block of North 44th Street about 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Shortly after stopping the suspects, both occupants fled from the car on foot. The officers pursued the suspects, and during the foot pursuit one officer shot one suspect, armed with a semiautomatic handgun,” police said in a press release.”
Sylville Smith died at the scene, police said.
The shooting happened in a yard in the 3200 block of North 44th Street, police said.
Police said the other suspect, who has not been named, was taken into custody and is facing charges.
Mayor Tom Barrett said the two officers involved in the chase and shooting were wearing body cameras, WISN-TV reports. The cameras were operational, Barrett said.
He said the officer ordered the man to drop his gun twice and then fired several times when he refused. Barrett said a photo from the body camera clearly shows Smith had the gun in his hand when he was killed.
The body camera footage has not been released, and officials have not said when it could be made public.
Police said the semiautomatic handgun recovered at the scene was stolen in a burglary from a home in Waukesha, Wisconsin, in March 2016. The burglary victim said 500 rounds of ammunition were also taken.
Barrett told reporters the gun was loaded, according to The Associated Press.
“This stop took place because two officers … saw suspicious activity,” Barrett said. “There were 23 rounds in that gun that that officer was staring at. I want to make sure we don’t lose any police officers in this community, either.”
Milwaukee Police Assistant Chief Bill Jessup told the Journal Sentinel it has not been determined if the gun was pointed at the officer or if shots were fired by the suspect.
“That officer had to make a split-second decision when the person confronted him with a handgun,” Jessup said. “This is a risk they take every day on behalf of our community.”
The shooting came after five fatal shootings during a nine-hour stretch from Friday night to Saturday morning. It occurred just blocks from three of those homicides, police told the Journal Sentinel.
“As everyone knows, this was a very, very violent 24 hours in the city of Milwaukee,” Jessup said. “Our officers are out here taking risks on behalf of the community and making split-second decisions.”
Police said in a press release that the 23-year-old man who was fatally shot had a “lengthy arrest record.”
A search of Wisconsin court records revealed several arrests, but only one misdemeanor conviction for Sylville Smith. His record also included traffic offenses. No felony convictions were found.
The misdemeanor conviction, for carrying a concealed weapon, came in July 2014. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was fined $443 and ordered to serve one day in jail.
His record also included guilty findings on traffic offenses for speeding, operating a motor vehicle without insurance, possession of open intoxicants in a motor vehicle and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
Smith was arrested in 2015 on a charge of intimidating a witness by a person charged with a felony, which is itself a felony offense. The case was dropped later that year by the prosecutor.
He was also charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety, a felony, and misdemeanor possession of THC earlier in 2015. Those charges were dismissed by a judge based on a motion by the defense.
According to the Journal Sentinel, both cases stemmed from a February 2015 shooting in which he was a suspect.
Smith was accused of calling his girlfriend from jail to tell her to call the victim in the shooting case to get him to fill out a sworn affidavit saying Smith didn’t commit the crime, according to court documents obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
The victim recanted his identification of Smith and the case was dropped after the victim did not show up to court and was uncooperative, the newspaper reports.
In 2013, Smith was charged with retail theft, but that case as also dropped by the prosecutor.