Schimel: Investigators Reviewing 2 Body Camera Videos In Milwaukee Shooting

AG Says Footage Won't Be Released Until After State Investigation Is Complete

Brad Schimel
Courtesy of Wisconsin Public Television

Wisconsin’s attorney general says a fatal police shooting in Milwaukee that sparked two nights of violence was recorded by not one, but two body cameras.

The state is investigating the Aug. 13 shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith. Authorities have said Smith was fleeing police and that footage from the officer’s body camera clearly shows Smith holding a handgun and turning toward an officer when he was shot during the foot chase.

Attorney General Brad Schimel updated the public on the shooting investigation Monday. He said authorities are reviewing that as well as a second video recorded by another officer’s body camera. The vantage points are similar, Schimel said.

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The videos won’t be released until after the state investigation is complete and Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm decides whether to criminally charge the officer, Schimel said.

Releasing the video footage now could compromise the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation’s ongoing investigation into Smith’s death, Schimel said Monday.

“We do not want to create the worst-case scenario, that the DA determines charges might be appropriate, and then cannot complete a successful investigation because we let the investigation get compromised,” Schimel said. “We will not do that.”

But Chris Ahmuty, American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin executive director, said once all the critical witnesses have been interviewed, the video should be released. People don’t want to wait weeks or months to see the video footage.

“Trust without verification can only last for so long,” Ahmuty said.

Schimel didn’t say when the state could complete its review of Smith’s death, but promised a quicker determination than in the case of Dontre Hamilton, a man shot by a Milwaukee officer in April 2014 that ended with Chisholm announcing about seven months later that the officer involved wouldn’t be criminally charged.