Published: Thu, June 22, 2017
National | By Miranda Cannon

Verdict reached in police shooting trial


However, defense attorneys charged that the officer was only trying to defend himself.

On Monday, the jury was told it could find Officer Heaggan-Brown guilty of the original charge, first-degree reckless homicide, or of either of two lesser charges: second-degree reckless homicide, which carries a maximum of 15 years in prison, or homicide by negligent operation of a risky weapon, punishable by as many as five years in prison. The two men fled on foot, the officers gave chase, and Heaggan-Brown shot and killed Smith.

Smith's death brought to the surface long-simmering tensions between black Milwaukee residents and police, and demonstrators assembled near the site of the shooting in Sherman Park hours after it happened. Heaggan-Brown fired his first shot - a shot the prosecution conceded was lawful - and then fired the second, fatal shot less than two seconds later, just after Smith had thrown away his pistol The prosecution claimed that the second shot constituted reckless homicide.

During the trial, Heaggan-Brown's lawyer told the jury that the "first shot was a justifiable shot and that justification did not change in 1.69 seconds", The Associated Press reported.

Smith's family members reacted angrily to the verdict, swearing and storming from the courtroom.

Jurors reached their decision on the second day of deliberations in Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

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Mr Heaggan-Brown will face other charges in relation to a sexual assault investigation that led to his firing after the shooting incident.

He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. At that moment, Heaggan-Brown fired at him, hitting his right arm. Smith and Heaggan-Brown are both black. Heaggan-Brown pursued Smith and shot him in the arm and in the chest. The second shot was justified, Willis told the jury, because officers are trained to assume a suspect may have more than one weapon. After Smith was shot, the resulting violence during protests left businesses burned, police cars damaged and officers injured. Smith, who was armed with a handgun, took off running toward a chain-link fence. The trial judge is also allowing jurors to consider two lesser charges: second-degree reckless homicide, and reckless use of a firearm.

The 12 person jury, which included four blacks, sided with the defense.

Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn says the jury that cleared an officer Wednesday in the shooting death of a black man saw the same thing he did in officers' body-camera video of the shooting.

Smith's shooting was among a string of killings of blacks by police in recent years that have increased debate about race and policing.

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