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Milwaukee Cop Who Fatally Shot Man Charged With Sex Assault

Sylville Smith's death sparked two nights of violence in the Sherman Park neighborhood, with several businesses burned

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office
    Dominique Heaggan-Brown

    A Milwaukee police officer who fatally shot a black man in August, sparking several nights of unrest, has been charged with sexually assaulting a man two days after the shooting, after they watched coverage of the riots on television at a bar, authorities announced Thursday.

    Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, 24, was arrested Wednesday, according to a statement from the Milwaukee Police Department. The adult male victim, identified only as AV1, told police on Aug. 15 that Heaggan-Brown had sexually assaulted him while off duty, according to the criminal complaint. That was two days after Heaggan-Brown fatally shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith, who police said was holding a gun when he was shot after a brief chase.

    Heaggan-Brown took the victim to a bar late on the night of Aug. 14 where they drank heavily and watched TV as coverage of the protests aired, the criminal complaint said. The victim told investigators that Heaggan-Brown bragged that he was the boss and that there were "no limitations" on how he lived and that he could do whatever he wanted "without repercussions," the complaint said.

    The victim told police the day after the alleged assault that he had trouble remembering everything that happened after they left the bar but that he felt drugged. He said he woke up to Heaggan-Brown sexually assaulting him. His eyes teared up as he recounted the details, the complaint said.

    According to the complaint, the man was nearly unconscious when Heaggan-Brown took him to St. Joseph's Hospital early on Aug. 15. The officer told a security guard who helped him wheel the man inside that the man had had too much to drink and was "completely out, zonked out of his gourd," the complaint said.

    But when nurses began providing aid, it said, "AV1 flipped out." It quoted him as saying, "Help me, help me, he was touching me." The terrified man grabbed the security guard's arm with "a little child death grip." And after he was secured in a four-point restraint, out of sight from the defendant, he exclaimed: "He raped me, he raped me," the complaint said.

    Later that morning, Heaggan-Brown texted his mentor, Sgt. Joseph Hall, saying he had messed up "big time," the complaint said.

    "Need your help big time. ... But need to handle this the most secret and right way possible," the text read in part. The sergeant told investigators that Heaggan-Brown claimed the sex was consensual but "admitted that AV1 was messed up and acting funny while at the defendant's residence."

    Using photographs and other data from the officer's cellphone, the complaint said, investigators determined that Heaggan-Brown offered two other people money for sex several times — in December 2015 and in July and August of this year — and that he sexually assaulted another unconscious person in July, and photographed that victim naked without that person's consent.

    The charges include two felony counts of second-degree sexual assault, two misdemeanor prostitution counts and one felony count of capturing an intimate representation of a person without consent.

    Police said Heaggan-Brown is suspended and in custody, and they have launched an internal investigation. Chief Edward Flynn scheduled a news conference for 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

    Online court records didn't list an attorney who could comment on Heaggan-Brown's behalf.

    The head of Milwaukee's police union issued a statement saying it's imperative that the facts dictate the outcome.

    "The Milwaukee Police Association is proud to represent 1600 truly professional officers," the union's president, Mike Crivello, said in a statement. "In any large organization there may be a time that one, or a few discredit the overall; this is by no means reflective of the overwhelming majority of good officers."

    Heaggan-Brown joined the police department in July 2010 as an aide. Like Sylville Smith, Heaggan-Brown is black. He was assigned to patrol the city's heavily minority north side.

    Flynn has said that Smith was fleeing from a traffic stop when he was shot. Heaggan-Brown's body camera showed that Smith was shot after he turned toward an officer with a gun in his hand, according to investigators.

    Smith's death sparked two nights of violence in the Sherman Park neighborhood, with several businesses burned. It also ramped up long-festering racial tension in Milwaukee.

    The Wisconsin Department of Justice investigated Smith's death and has turned the case over to Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm for a charging decision. It's not clear when a decision in that case will be made.