Sexual Assault Charges Filed Against Milwaukee Police Officer Involved in Sherman Park Shooting

Oct 20, 2016

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn spoke at a news conference on Thursday

Disciplinary proceedings are now underway against the Milwaukee police officer, whose actions sparked unrest in the Sherman Park Neighborhood. He fatally shot Sylville Smith in August.

The District Attorney has not announced whether he’ll file charges in that case. But the DA has now charged Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown with five counts of sexual misconduct. The new accusations stem from an attack that allegedly happened the same weekend as the shooting.

The criminal complaint alleges Officer Heaggan-Brown took the victim to a bar on the night of Aug.14, the day after the fatal shooting. They drank and watched TV coverage of the protests. The victim says at one point, he felt like he had been drugged and woke up to find Heaggan-Brown assaulting him. Police Chief Ed Flynn calls the officer’s alleged conduct, altogether awful.

“This is extraordinarily disappointing, these are graves charges, these are charges that go to the heart of the oath to protect and serve. It casts a pall over all of us because we recognize that unfortunately too many people will judge the actions and conduct of the many, by the excesses of one individual,” Flynn says.

The complaint also alleges that the officer offered two other people money for sex in recent months, and that he assaulted another unconscious person in July. In addition, Flynn says Heaggan-Brown has been charged internally, for violations of the department’s code of conduct. He says the officer has been suspended with pay and may face the possibility of losing his job, down the line.

“He has a right to respond to charges, there’s due process in internal investigations as well as under criminal law. So, the charges are being drawn up, he’ll respond to those charges and then we’ll make a determination,” Flynn says.

Flynn says a pre-hiring background check on Heaggan-Brown didn’t turn up any red flags. Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello cautioned people against rushing to judgement. In a statement, Crivello said his union is proud to represent 1,600 “truly professional officers.” He says that in any large organization, there may be times that one, or a few people, may discredit the rest. But, he says this case is “by no means reflective of the overwhelming majority of good officers.”

Mayor Tom Barrett also weighed in on the case. He says no matter the rank or circumstances, Milwaukee police officers must be held to the highest standards of conduct.