The identity of the police officer who shot and killed Sylville Smith appeared on social media and was confirmed today by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Photos of the officer on social media with his name (and some with his address) prompted responses encouraging violence against him:
As of Tuesday, at least 3,000 people have shared a Facebook photo of the 24-year-old Milwaukee patrolman who fatally shot 23-year-old Sylville Smith – some of them adding furious and threatening comments.
“Now y’all see his face if he’s seen anywhere in the city drop him,” read one post. Another called for a gun so the person could “shoot him right in his head.”
The posters gave the officer’s name, Dominique Heaggan, and some included his home address. The Journal Sentinel has independently confirmed his identity, which has not been released by the Police Department. He is also known as Dominique Heaggan-Brown.
The NY Daily News published some examples of other responses condoning violence against Heaggan-Brown online:
“Do whatever ya’ll need to do to this man,” wrote one person.
Another wrote: “They coming for yo a–, Mr. Postman.”
The Milwaukee Police Department gave a general statement about the online threats to the Journal-Sentinel:
MPD has noted a disturbing national trend where users of social media have identified officers involved in uses of deadly force, threatened the officers and their families, and demonized them. Locally, we are aware of some general threats against our officers. MPD takes these threats seriously and is investigating.
Officer Heaggan-Brown has been staying with relatives out of town while he awaits the result of an investigation into the shooting. Police have reported that Heaggan-Brown was wearing an operational body camera during the shooting and claim the camera clearly shows Smith had a gun in his hand when he was shot. The video of the incident has not yet been released.
Heaggan-Brown and Smith grew up in the same neighborhood and attended the same high school. Smith’s sister said the two knew one another at the time. Heaggan-Brown became a police aide in 2010 and a police officer in 2013. He has never had a complaint filed against him.