Milwaukee riots follow police shooting; National Guard activated

UPDATE – 4:32 p.m. EST: Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced Monday that the city is instituting a 10 p.m. CST curfew in an attempt to stop the chaos which has ensued since Saturday night. 

“There is a curfew that will be more strictly enforced tonight for teenagers. So parents, after 10 o’clock your teenagers better be home or in a place where they’re off the streets,” the mayor said.

Barrett also encouraged the state of Wisconsin’s independent advisory board to release the police video which shows an African-American Milwaukee police officer firing the fatal shot at suspect Sylville Smith, who had fled on foot after being pulled over by officers while driving.

 

The Saturday afternoon shooting death of Sylville Smith, 23, in Milwaukee provoked upheaval throughout the evening and into Sunday morning, prompting Governor Scott Walker to alert the National Guard and place the state unit on standby to assist city police to quell unrest.

Four buildings were set ablaze and one gas station was burned to the ground following the shooting death of Smith who, according to police, fled a routine traffic stop and pointed a loaded gun at an officer.

According to authorities, Smith’s weapon was loaded and the officer’s body camera captured Smith pointing the weapon at the officer.

Chief Edward Flynn and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett held a press conference Sunday in which the two told reporters the police officer ordered Smith to drop the gun and Smith refused:

“I’m looking at a silent movie that doesn’t necessarily tell me everything that will come out in a thorough investigation.  Based on what I saw, didn’t hear, don’t know what the autopsy results are going to be, (the officer) certainly appeared to be within lawful bounds,” Flynn said.

Flynn added that although the officer’s bodycam recorded the 20-25 second incident, the device did not capture audio of the event because the sound feature does not begin recording until 30 seconds into activation.

Although the two men appeared together at the Sunday press conference, Mayor Barrett said he had not seen the video tape, but had seen a still image of Smith pointing a weapon at police:

“That still photo demonstrates without question that (Smith) had a gun in his hand, and I want our community to know that.”

Although a peaceful vigil was held near the stand-off site, riots broke out in the late evening and continued into Sunday.

Police near the scene of Smith’s traffic stop attempted to break up protests, but were forced to retreat when gunfire erupted and rioters began throwing rocks at officers.  Two police cars were damaged and multiple arrests were made.  One police officer was seriously injured.

According to police records, Smith had a lengthy police record and had been arrested as late as July for possession of cocaine.  Dating back to 2011, Smith had been arrested or cited nine times on charges which include for a shooting, robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, theft, and possession of drugs.

The shooting in which Smith was a suspect also included a charge of witness intimidation; however, charges were later dropped.

 

[Time] [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel] [Reuters] [Photo courtesy Facebook/heavy.com]