Dominique Heaggan-Brown and Sylville K. Smith ( Photo Source: Heaggan/Facebook page and Sylville K. Smith/ Milwaukee County Sheriff)

Dominique Heaggan-Brown and Sylville K. Smith ( Photo sources: Heaggan/Facebook page and Sylville K. Smith/ Milwaukee County Sheriff)

The police shooting death of Sylville K. Smith in Milwaukee has been the source of unrest in the city. But what is now catching the attention of many is the identity and background of the officer who killed Smith. Officer Dominique Heaggan is a Black man who not only knew Smith but went to school with him as a youth. Both men grew up in the Sherman Park neighborhood of the city and attended  the same high school. In addition, Heaggan knew relatives and had some of the same friends as Smith.

Unfortunately, they had two different trajectories in life, however, both men shared the same mindset as Blacks living in the inner city. Since the age of 11, Heaggan had aspirations of being a rapper and went by the name of KB Domo and often collaborated with local rapper Dae Flywalker. Among his lyrics were “I’mma start a riot like it’s Baltimore.” Surprising, since he joined the Milwaukee force in 2010 as a police aide and in 2013 graduated from the police academy. His rap lyrics echoed that of many Black youth growing up in Milwaukee with troubled schools and cops who seemed like enemies to the community rather than protectors. Heaggan, it seems, tried to make a difference as an officer — most notably giving money to a homeless woman and making sure she had a decent meal as well as taking her to a shelter when she was in distress. His actions gained him praise and he was thought of as a model officer by his supervisors. Some in the community dispute this, claiming that once Heaggan put on the badge he engaged in the same behavior as other officers when it came to policing his community. This included harassing young Black men whom he felt were up to no good. Deandre Uea, 25, who knew both Heaggan and Smith stated to media, “He seemed like he was so eager to get somebody in trouble, mess with someone. Too eager. He grew up rough. We all grew up rough. We all grew up in poverty, so it was kind of hard.”

Ueal wrote on Facebook after the shooting, “When everybody said a young black new cop shot Syville. This dude popped in my mind for real for real. him & another young cop be over here where we live messing with ppl and pulling them out they cars. Smh dude be too thirsty and he knew Syville.”

In the wake of the shooting, Heaggan’s name and address were posted to social media, which garnered him many comments, including death threats. Among the posts:

-“Now y’all see his face if he’s seen anywhere in the city drop him.”
-“He a thug too he just got a badge on,” “they coming for yo a** Mr. Postman.”
-“He might as well leave the city. I feel for dude if he caught on the street by somebody lol they not gone play with him.”

Because of the nature of the threats, Heaggan has left the city while the investigation into the shooting of Smith is underway. The Milwaukee Police Department issued a statement which reads in part: “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.”

Heaggan is currently on paid administrative leave and living in an unknown location.

Mo Barnes

"Mo Betta" Maurice "Mo" Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.