The family of Milwaukee police shooting victim Sylville Smith has filed a civil wrongful death suit against the city and fired officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown.
Attorney David Owens announced it Wednesday, just minutes after a jury cleared Heaggan-Brown of criminal reckless homicide in the shooting of Smith last August that spurred two nights of violence in Milwaukee.
The 25-year-old Heaggan-Brown still faces charges for the sexual assault of a man one day after the shooting. The civil suit says he should never have been hired as an officer due to that and other incidents like speeding and marijuana possession since he became a police aide in 2010 and a full fledged officer in 2015.
“The truth of the matter is, Officer Heaggan-Brown shouldn’t have been on the force at all, he shouldn’t have been on the street that night,” Owens said, adding that Heaggan-Brown had been the subject of numerous use of force complaints.
Owens represented the family of Tony Robinson, a 19-year-old Madison man fatally shot by a police officer in 2015. The city of Madison settled with his family earlier this year for a record $3.35 million.
In the Smith shooting, Heaggan-Brown claimed self defense while prosecutors say Smith became unarmed between two gunshots fired within two seconds of each other.
Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood was calm Wednesday night after the jury acquitted the former officer. The shooting last summer set off two nights of rioting, and neighbors said they’d had enough upheaval.