Riots and unrest broke out in Milwaukee, Wisconsin over the weekend following another officer-involved shooting.
About 100 protesters clashed with police: “Four businesses were destroyed or burned badly, seven squad cars were damaged, and four officers were injured in the chaos Saturday night.” In addition, “seventeen people were arrested, and 48 shots or series of shots were fired, according to police. A teenage girl was injured by a stray bullet, police said.”
The riots prompted not only a State of Emergency declaration and the deployment of the Milwaukee Police Department’s armored vehicles, but also the activation of the National Guard. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said that he hoped it wouldn’t be necessary to deploy the National Guard, but kept the option on the table if necessary.
The unrest occurred in response to a shooting that happened Saturday afternoon around 3:30. Twenty-three-year-old Sylville Smith – a black man – fled Milwaukee police after he and a friend were pulled over. According to police, Smith had a gun, and when police ordered him to drop it during their brief chase, he refused, prompting police to shoot and kill him.
Milwaukee police chief Ed Flynn stated that there is body cam footage of the chase and the shooting, but it has not yet been released. According to Flynn, the footage shows that the officer shot Smith because of a “credible threat.”
The officer who shot and killed Smith has not yet been identified, but he is 24 years old, and also happens to be black.
Smith had a lengthy criminal record, including various drug and weapons charges. Last year, he was charged in a non-fatal shooting case, but the victim changed his story, and the charges against Smith were dropped.
In that same case, Smith was also charged with intimidating the victim to reverse his statement which identified Smith as the shooter. Recorded jail calls with his girlfriend confirm that Smith was trying to get his girlfriend to have the victim sign an affidavit to recant his statement.
Nevertheless, the shooting and intimidation charges against Smith were dropped, and it was determined that he, in fact, did not pressure the victim.
His most recent arrest was in July for possession of cocaine.
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