Trial For Ex-Milwaukee Officer Set For Closing Arguments

Expert: Dominique Heaggan-Brown Justified In Fatal Shooting Of Sylville Smith

Dominique Heaggan-Brown speaks with his attorney Jonathan C. Smith
Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via AP Photo

Defense attorneys for a former Milwaukee officer on trial for fatally shooting a black man have rested their case.

Attorneys for Dominique Heaggan-Brown called an expert in the use of deadly force as their only witness for the former officer charged with first-degree reckless homicide.

Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, killed 23-year-old Sylville Smith after a foot chase following a traffic stop Aug. 13.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Robert Willis, a police expert in the use of deadly force, testified Heaggan-Brown “acted in accordance with his training.”

Smith ran from police during a traffic stop carrying a gun with Heaggan-Brown in pursuit. Smith threw away his gun a second before Heaggan-Brown fatally shot him. Prosecutors contend Smith was defenseless when Heaggan-Brown shot him because Smith threw his gun over a fence.

Willis said Heaggan-Brown was forced to make a quick decision when “he was presented with a deadly threat.” Heaggan-Brown’s attorneys say the fatal encounter happened so fast the officer had to act quickly to defend himself.

Heaggan-Brown’s attorneys started and finished presenting their case Monday, arguing the officer was acting in self-defense.

Closing arguments were expected late-Monday afternoon, but then pushed to Tuesday morning to not rush either party.

The shooting sparked two nights of unrest in Sherman Park, the predominantly black neighborhood where it happened.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn fired Heaggan-Brown in October after the former officer was charged with an unrelated sexual assault.

Editor’s Note: This story was last updated at 6:16 p.m. Monday, June 19. WPR’s Ross Terrell contributed to this report.