Milwaukee law enforcement officials confirm 23-year-old Sylville Smith was shot by a police officer Saturday afternoon when he ran from a traffic stop. Although the body camera footage has not been released, officials say Smith is seen with a handgun and refused to obey the officer’s order to drop the weapon.
Investigators haven’t said if Smith actually pointed the gun at the officer. According to Milwaukee Police, Smith had a stolen semiautomatic handgun reported missing from a burglary back in March.
The department has not released the name of the officer that fired at Smith, but says that he was placed on administrative duty following the shooting.
Police describe Smith’s criminal record as “lengthy”. According to the Milwauke Journal Sentinel, Smith was charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety and witness intimidation in 2015, but the charges were dropped.
Smith’s mother, Mildred Haynes said she was “lost” after learning of her son’s death.
“My son is gone due to the police killing my son,” Haynes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They wouldn’t let me see him.”
Haynes told the outlet that her son received his conceal-carry license recently after being shot twice and robbed four times. In one of the robberies, she said he was stripped of all his clothing. She said, Smith who also leaves behind a two-year-old son, would never draw a weapon on police.
Riots broke out hours after Smith’s death was made public with several businesses set on fire. At last check, nearly 20 people were arrested and four officers were hurt. A 16-year-old girl was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries after being struck by a stray bullet.
— Tim Pool (@Timcast) August 14, 2016
— Lord Rach. (@rachael_firefly) August 14, 2016
Crowd breaks widows of unoccupied squad near Sherman and Auer. Other squad set afire and broken windows on another. pic.twitter.com/Jux2mJZYyQ
— Milwaukee Police (@MilwaukeePolice) August 14, 2016
Smith’s brother spoke to the violence during a live TV interview.
— D (@Delo_Taylor) August 14, 2016
Smith’s father issued a call to action to angry crowds in an interview with FOX6.
“I’ve gotta start with my kids and we gotta change our ways, to be better role models. And we gotta change ourselves. We’ve gotta talk to them, put some sense into them. They targeting us, but we know about it so there’s no reason to keep saying it’s their fault. You play a part in it. If you know there’s a reason, don’t give in to the hand, don’t be going around with big guns, don’t be going around shooting each other and letting them shoot y’all cause that’s just what they’re doing and they’re out to destroy us and we’re falling for it.”
As devastating images circulated via social media, Twitter users expressed the boiling points leading up to the weekend voilence using the hashtag #MilwaukeeUprising”
if you are worried more about property than black lives, go ahead and block me #MilwaukeeUprising
— chris lawrence (@chrislaawrence) August 14, 2016
— Dante Boykin (@DanteB4u) August 14, 2016
When did someone having a criminal record become reason for police to shoot them in the street without trial? #MilwaukeeUprising
— Logan (@logantegman) August 15, 2016