The officer involved in the fatal shooting of Sylville Smith, 24-year-old Dominique Heaggan-Brown, was terminated from the Milwaukee Police Department for allegedly violating the Milwaukee Police Code of Conduct on Oct. 3, just a little over a week after being charged with five counts of sexual assault.
Just one day after Dominique Heaggan-Brown’s preliminary court hearing regarding the sexual assault charges, nine members of Common Council also sent a letter to District Attorney John Chisholm requesting the immediate release of the police body camera footage that captured the fatal shooting involving the former officer, Heaggan-Brown, and 23-year-old Smith that occurred on August 13.
The council members expressed their concern as to why the video hasn’t been released saying that “there is no valid reason why the video footage should be withheld from the public.”
“It is our firm belief that releasing the video footage as soon as possible will help strengthen public trust and provide a measure of transparency for citizens,” the letter read. “We also hope the release of the footage can mark a starting point for greater healing in our city, and a path to justice for everyone involved in the case.”
Milwaukee County District Attorney Chisholm did not return a call from Media Milwaukee seeking comment on the aldermen’s letter.
The letter was signed by the following members: Ald. Milele Coggs, President Ashanti Hamilton, Ald. Russell Stamper II, Ald. Chantia Lewis, Ald. Robert Donovan, Ald. Cavalier Johnson, Ald. Nik Kovac, Ald. Robert Bauman and Ald. José Pérez.
On Oct. 27, nearly 20 people filled the small preliminary courtroom for Heaggan-Brown’s hearing. Among those in attendance were six visual reporters with earbuds in one ear standing behind their large video cameras placed on tripods and one who held his camera in his right hand, off-duty police officers, and a man who said he was there to testify.
As each person entered the courtroom, they were called upfront by an officer and asked if they were there for court or to just watch the hearing. The individuals who were there for court were asked to wait outside in the nearby waiting area until their attorney appeared.
Dressed in long, khaki pants and a knitted khaki sweater, the male witness abruptly entered the courtroom. Swaying from side-to-side with only his backside and the back of his thick black afro showing, the witness was greeted by the tall officer.
“Are you here to just watch?” the officer said in his deep monotone voice as the man trotted to the front row of the courtroom.
“No, I’m trying to sign in.” The witness, who said he was there to testify, was holding a black-and-yellow backpack filled with notebooks, loose-leaf paper and other documents printed on white paper.
It’s unclear of what exactly the man was there to “testify” about since he was not very specific. While he may have been referring to Heaggan-Brown’s case, since the hearing was waived, he never made it onto the witness stand.
After showing the officer his ID card, the man finally found a seat on the first row and began looking through his backpack. For nearly five minutes, the only sound that filled the courtroom was that of papers being shuffled through.
At about 8:45 a.m., two officers walked and stood at the entrance doors just 15 minutes before the hearing started.
Just after 9 a.m., Heaggan-Brown was escorted into the courtroom by two bailiffs and directed to a seat beside his attorney, Michael Steinle.
He appeared with a black afro, full mustache and beard, dressed in a yellow suicide prevention vest. Before taking his seat, he took a good look through the thick glass at everyone in attendance.
Within three minutes of the hearing, Court Commissioner Barry Phillips read aloud a document indicating that Heaggan-Brown had waived his preliminary hearing. Court Commissioner Barry Phillips then bound Heaggan-Brown over for trial. He is currently being held in custody on $100,000 bail.
Heaggan-Brown was charged with three felonies and two misdemeanors: Second Degree Sexual Assault-Intoxicated Victim, Second Degree Sexual Assault/ Unconscious Victim, Capture an Intimate Representation and two counts of Prostitution-Nonmarital Sexual Intercourse.
It was alleged that Heaggan-Brown had sexual intercourse with another male while the male was intoxicated and unable to consent, just one day after the officer shot and killed Sylville Smith. Prior to that, he allegedly had sexual intercourse with another victim who he knew was unconscious, in July.
In addition, Heaggan-Brown allegedly captured an intimate representation of the unconscious victim without consent, according to the criminal complaint. Lastly, the former officer, allegedly, requested nonmarital intercourse on two separate occasions from two different subjects. (Read more about the charges here.)
He is expected to appear in court Nov. 4 for an arraignment.
During an attempted traffic stop, according to police, Heaggan-Brown ordered Smith to drop his gun. Reportedly, Smith did not follow orders. Instead, Smith led the officer on a chase, which resulted in Heaggan-Brown fatally shooting Smith once in the chest and in the right arm, according to the medical examiner report. (Read more about the officer-involved shooting here.)
According to Information Officer Timothy Gauerke, body camera footage shows that Smith was, in fact, armed and turning towards the former officer when Heaggan-Brown fired the shots.
The investigation regarding Sylville Smith’s death was conducted by the Department of Justice. However, the findings were sent to District Attorney John Chisholm for a decision on whether charges will be filed against the former officer.
The Department of Justice ruled that the video will not be released until Attorney Chisholm makes a decision, according to Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel.