By IVAN MORENO
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Bodycam video from a former Milwaukee police officer on trial for killing a black man shows the officer yelling “stop reaching” even as the man was not moving on the ground.
The details emerged Thursday as jurors saw the video from a body camera worn by Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is charged with first-degree reckless homicide for the death on Aug. 13 of Sylville Smith, 23.
It was the first time the public has seen the shooting from Heaggan-Brown’s vantage point and his response immediately afterward. The shooting sparked two nights of riots in the predominantly black neighborhood where it happened.
But the case differs from other police shootings that have given rise to a national debate police officers’ dealings with black residents. Heaggan-Brown is also black and he grew up in the same neighborhood where the shooting took place.
Jurors at Heaggan-Brown’s trial saw bodycam video on Wednesday from the vantage point of another officer at the scene. Both that video and Heaggan-Brown’s own show how rapidly a routine traffic stop turned into a violent confrontation.
Viewers Thursday got to see Heaggan-Brown, immediately after stepping out of his patrol car, briefly pointing his gun at Smith and begin running after him. Heaggan-Brown then put his gun back in his holster as Smith, who was also holding a gun, turned into a path between two houses.
Smith slipped and fell near a fence and reached for the gun he had dropped.
When the video was slowed to show individual frames, Smith could be seen holding the gun by the barrel to throw it over the fence.
The two shots that Heaggan-Brown fired came within two seconds of each other, striking Smith once in his right arm and once in his chest as he hit the ground.
It took about 12 seconds for Heaggan-Brown to exit his vehicle and reach a spot where he could stand over Smith with his firearm pointed at his body, which was not moving.
That’s when Heaggan-Brown told Smith to “stop reaching.” Moments later, he checked to see if he was still alive.
“Hey man, you still there?” Heaggan-Brown said, before touching Smith’s neck to check for a pulse. After pumping Smith’s chest with his hands a few times, Heaggan-Brown looked down at his hands, noticed blood and asked for gloves.
Heaggan-Brown, 25, faces up to 60 years in prison if convicted of killing Smith. Already, he’s lost his job. He was fired in October after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.
Prosecutors say the second shot from Heaggan-Brown was unnecessary. But Heaggan-Brown’s defense attorneys say the officer believed Smith was still armed and was afraid for his life. They also say the former officer was forced to make split-second decisions.
The trial is expected to conclude by the middle of next week.