Milwaukee, WI — When Sylville Smith, 23, was shot and killed at a traffic stop by police on Aug. 16th in broad daylight in Milwaukee, WI, his homicide set off violent riots which lasted for days, destroying property, and injuring several other police officers in the process. Dozens were arrested, and the National Guard was called in before order was eventually restored.
At the time of the killing, Sherelle Smith (sister), questioned her brother’s slaying, and openly wondered if the police officer who killed her brother, Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, had killed her brother out of jealousy, as the two personally knew each other having grown up attending the same high school.
Smith’s claim her brother was killed by a jealous peace officer, will now have to be revisited, as the man responsible for killing her brother, Heaggan-Brown, has been arrested, but not for Smith’s death. On the contrary, Heaggan-Brown was arrested and charged with felony rape of another man.
The alleged rape occurred on Sunday, the day after Heaggan-Brown had been placed on mandatory leave of duty, pursuant to the officer-involved shooting investigation. Heaggan-Brown met up with the victim, who said he met through Facebook. The two had for drinks at a bar and watched television news coverage of the riots for which the officer’s actions were responsible. According to The Washington Post, the victim said the officer of the peace was, bragging, “about being able to do whatever [he] wanted without repercussions.” After drinking for about an hour-and-a-half, the two men left together, according to the criminal complaint’s citation of security footage.
The victim alleges that Heaggan-Brown must have drugged him, because what he remembers is waking up to the police officer sodomizing him. After attempting to move away, he was reportedly told “no” and wasn’t allowed to do so.
After the rape concluded, the police officer then drove the victim to the hospital at 4:16 am, and reportedly told hospital staff the victim “began to act weird and unresponsive” while the two were at the bar. After staying only 20 minutes, Heaggan-Brown then left the hospital and the victim in the care of the emergency room personnel.
According to the police investigation into the rape allegations, the victim “exhibited signs of trauma” during the police detective’s interview. As a result, a criminal investigation of officer Heaggan-Brown was launched and turned up some very incriminating evidence.
Apparently knowing he was guilty of rape, the alleged rapist then texted Sgt. Joseph Hall, his police mentor, describing his involvement into, “a separate situation” and saying he had goofed up, “big time.” He asked his mentor to help him “handle this [situation in] the most secret and right way possible.” Heaggan-Brown met Hall to discuss the situation in which he described having “consensual sex” with the victim but stated, the victim “was drunk and had ‘medical issues.’”
A week went by before investigators contacted Heaggan-Brown, but when they did they confiscated his phone and searched his home, turning up photos of other sex acts with other men (on the phone) and locating the victim’s shirt, belt, and cell phone in the officer’s car. According to the Post, “While searching Heaggan-Brown’s phone after the initial complaint, authorities then said they discovered evidence he had tried to offer two other people money for sex. They also found images of what the complaint stated were nude photos of another person, some showing sexual contact. This person told police they did not consent to any sexual contact or the nude photos, the complaint stated.”
Heaggan-Brown, Sylville Smith’s killer and now alleged rapist, faces up to 40 years in prison and 100,000 dollars in fines. “In addition to the assault charges, Heaggan-Brown has also been charged with two counts of prostitution, a misdemeanor, and a felony count of taking a nude photo of someone without their consent,” according to the Post. He pleaded not guilty in court Thursday, to the misdemeanors, and has been suspended with pay, even though he has also been charged internally by police for having violated the department’s code of conduct.
The investigation into Smith’s murder, and Heaggan-Brown’s rape charges, are being treated as two separate investigations.
Sylville Smith’s killing was vehemently justified by Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke who claimed Smith would likely still be alive had he been in jail where he belonged. Clarke said Smith was given “light sanctions” for his lengthy criminal record.
But Smith’s cousin says he was constantly being profiled by police, and even more so after Smith won a harassment lawsuit against the police. His family contends Smith was a lawful concealed carry permit holder, who was shot in the back as he ran from authorities. They also maintain he ran from police because he had already spent 10 months in jail for a crime which they say was later dismissed. “He is not a felon. If he was a felon, he would never have been able to get the CCW,” his cousin stated.
And now it’s too late. Smith is dead, and the police officer involved in his homicide is now behind bars, awaiting trial, not for killing another black man, but for the felonious rape of another man, prostitution, and felony possession of nude photos taken without the victim’s consent.
When will the police start to listen to the community? Smith’s sister Sherelle knew something was wrong. She knew the man who killed her brother had a beef that went all the way back to high school.
Maybe if they’ll start to listen and open a dialog, instead of immediately defending their boys in blue, printing out the victim’s rap sheet, and cranking up their public relation’s spin machine, something could be done to change the fear currently being felt in communities across the country.