Heaggan-Brown, 25, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide for shooting Smith dead after a foot pursuit. But after about one day of deliberations, the jury found him not guilty of the charge.
The defense had argued that Heaggan-Brown was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Smith, who had a firearm.
According to CBS 58 News, “sobs and screams” were heard in the courtroom after the not guilty verdict was read. The prosecutor in the case, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm, told jurors that Smith was defenseless when he was shot by Heaggan-Brown.
The jury was made up of nine women and three men — four were black and the rest were white. Chisholm told jurors that Heaggan-Brown had no need to use deadly force on Smith, as he was no longer armed.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Chilling Video Shows the Moment Heaggan-Brown Shot Smith
Bodycam footage that was shown to jurors shows the moment that Heaggan-Brown opened fire on Smith, who fled the two MPD officers on foot and tried to jump over a fence. Smith had a stolen gun in his hand, but appeared to drop it over a fence between two homes when Heaggan-Brown shoots.
The officers were in pursuit of Smith after he fled from a traffic stop August 13 in the afternoon on Milwaukee’s north side. Smith ran out of the car in between two homes and tried to leap over a fence as Heaggan-Brown reached for his gun at his waist.
Smith was shot in his right bicep as he threw the gun over the fence and was shot once more almost two seconds later in the chest. That’s when Smith falls back onto his back with his legs in the air.
“He’s in the most vulnerable position that he can possibly be in,” Chisholm said of Smith during the trial when reviewing the video. “He looks like a child.”
A transcript of the incident that was given to jurors shows that Heaggan-Brown claimed he thought he had been shot when he was stung by a bee just as the shooting happened.
“It happened so quick, I didn’t know,” Heaggan-Brown said. “I just felt my arm was hot.”
Another officer asks him if his arm was hot like “you mighta got shot?” Heaggan-Brown responds by saying, “yeah.”
2. Smith’s Sister Said Heaggan-Brown & Her Brother Knew Each Other Personally
It was initially thought that the two went to high school together, but later that was found to be untrue.
Smith’s sister Sherelle Smith initially told Fox 6 Milwaukee that the two knew each other “personally” from school at Pulaski High School.
“The boy knew my brother personally from high school, they knew each other,” she said to the news outlet. “You knew exactly how my brother was and you shot and killed him.”
However, a later story by Fox 6 included a source from Heaggan-Brown’s family telling them that the two never went to the same high school.
According to Heaggan-Brown’s family, he went to W.e.b. Dubois on the campus of Marshall High School and graduated in 2010. A spokesperson for Milwaukee Public Schools told the news station that they had “no records” that indicated Smith and Heaggan-Brown went to the same school at anytime.
After the shooting, Heaggan-Brown allegedly received death threats, and MPD issued a statement shortly thereafter saying that they noticed a “disturbing national trend” on social media where officers and their families are threatened.
3. After the Shooting, Riots Caused Chaos on the Streets of Milwaukee
The shooting sparked violent riots and protests across Milwaukee for a three-day span and resulted in Governor Scott Walker activating the National Guard if needed. The riots led to several police officers being injured, police cars getting destroyed, buildings being burned and widespread looting.
Just hours after news of Smith’s death surfaced, riots began in the Sherman Park neighborhood of Milwaukee, and a nightly curfew was issued for teenagers in the area afterward. As officers arrived to the scene in riot gear, gunshots were heard and bricks were thrown at officers. The MPD reported 30 instances of gunfire during the evening.
Those rioting also attacked reporters that were on scene covering the chaos. A photographer from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported being chased and threatened by protesters while another reporter was shoved to the ground and punched in the face.
The second night of demonstrations saw more of the same, however the violence started to dissipate and a number of peaceful marches were planned. On August 15, the third night of protests, demonstrations remained peaceful with no property damage being reported, though six people were arrested.
4. Heaggan-Brown Is Accused of Sexually Assaulting a Man After Watching News Coverage of the Riot at a Bar
Heaggan-Brown is also accused of offering to pay two men for sex and taking sexually-explicit photos of another man who passed out from drinking just hours after he shot Smith. He faces several charges in the case: second degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim, second degree sexual assault of an unconscious victim, prostitution, two counts of non-marital sexual intercourse and capturing an intimate representation.
A jury trial for the sexual assault allegations is set for August 21.
On August 14, 2016, officers said that Heaggan-Brown and the male victim were at a bar where they “sat and watched television, as coverage of the Sherman Park protests aired.”
According to Fox 6 Milwaukee, the victim told investigators that he felt as if he was drugged and “had difficulty remembering what transpired after (the victim) left the bar with the defendant.”
In the early morning of August 15, Heaggan-Brown allegedly dropped off the man at a hospital and told workers that he was “completely out, zonked out of his gourd.” When nurses tried to tend to the victim, he allegedly screamed out for help, saying “(Heaggan-Brown) was touching me.”
After dropping the victim off at the hospital, Heaggan-Brown sent a text message to an MPD sergeant, who he described as a mentor. The text message pleaded asked for assistance in keeping the matter a secret.
Not so good got a separate situation. Need your help big time…But need to handle this the most secret and right way possible.
Another criminal complaint filed against Heaggan-Brown on October 20 indicated that there were four victims in relation to his sexual assault charges, and reported incidents stretch as far back as December 2015. Officers also went through Heaggan-Brown’s cell phone and found text messages from two others who said the suspect offered them money for sex.
5. Heaggan-Brown Was Fired After 6 Years With the MPD
Heaggan-Brown, who was an aspiring rapper that went by the names KB Domo and Lil’ Nique, was suspended by the MPD after the shooting, as is standard procedure for police-related incidents. Once the sexual assault allegations came to light, though, MPD terminated him after a review by MPD’s Internal Affairs.
MPD said that the termination had nothing to do with shooting Smith, rather they found him in violation of their code of conduct.
A statement from an MPD spokesperson sent to local media said that all officers must obey by laws on or off-duty or risk being terminated.
Department members shall obey local ordinances and state and federal laws, whether on or off-duty and whether on or off duty, department members shall not behave in such a way that a reasonable person would expect that discredit could be brought upon the department, or that it would create the appearance of impropriety or corruptive behavior.
Heaggan-Brown was first appointed to the position of police aide in 2010 and became a probationary officer in 2013.