Milwaukee man fatally shot by police officer identified

Family members of Sylville Smith gather where he was shot and killed by Milwaukee police in Milwaukee, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016.

Jeffrey Phelps, AP

Last Updated Aug 15, 2016 12:07 AM EDT

MILWAUKEE -- When police identified Sylville Smith as the Milwaukee man shot by an officer Saturday, triggering a violent uprising on the city's mostly black north side, Chief Edward Flynn cited Smith's "lengthy criminal record."

Online court records showed multiple charges against the 23-year-old Smith dating back to 2013. One was as minor as retail theft -- which was dismissed -- and other less serious offenses included speeding, driving without insurance, driving with a suspended license or having open intoxicants in a vehicle.

There were more serious charges. Smith was accused in a shooting last year and charged with recklessly endangering safety, a felony.

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Sylville K. Smith mugshot.

Milwaukee Police

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Smith was subsequently accused of pressuring the victim to recant statements that identified him as the gunman and was charged with trying to intimidate a witness. The charges were dropped because the victim recanted the identification and failed to appear in court, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern told the newspaper Sunday.

Smith also pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon in 2014.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said at a news conference that Smith had been arrested 13 times.

"He's got a bunch of drug arrests here, robbery, use of force," Clarke said.

But Smith was father to a 2-year-old toddler, too, his mother said.

"My son is gone due to the police killing my son," a distraught Mildred Haynes told the Journal Sentinel on Sunday. "I am lost."

Smith's younger sister, Sherelle Smith, 22, told the Journal Sentinel that her brother carried a gun because he was scared and needed to protect himself, not because he was violent. She said he was known around the neighborhood for his style and dance moves.

"He was a ladies' man. That's the worst thing about him," she said

"I'm not going to say he was an angel. He was out here living his life," Smith's godmother, Katherine Mahmoud, told the Journal Sentinel.

Mayor Tom Barrett called for empathy for Smith's family.

"I think we have to recognize that ... a young man lost his life yesterday afternoon," the mayor said. "And no matter what the circumstances are, his family has to be hurting."

Smith's death sparked explosive protests in northern Milwaukee, a town of 600,000 where roughly 40 percent of residents are black. Several businesses were burned down in the protests that stretched into Sunday morning, leading Gov. Scott Walker to activate National Guard troops in case violence persists.

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A car burns as a crowd of more than 100 people gathers following the fatal shooting of a man in Milwaukee, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016.

Calvin Mattheis, AP

Milwaukee police are moving in to disperse a crowd after some protesters threw objects and shots were fired on Sunday.

The crowd was at a location near where rioting took place on Saturday night.

About 150 people had marched through the neighborhood and circled back to a park to block an intersection. More police were arriving on the scene.

Police were on alert for more trouble Sunday evening after Saturday night violence marred the city's north side following the fatal shooting of a black man by police

Police Chief Flynn cautioned on Sunday that the shooting was still under investigation and authorities were awaiting autopsy results, but that based on the silent video from the unidentified officer's body camera, he "certainly appeared to be within lawful bounds."

At the same news conference, Mayor Barrett said a still image pulled from the footage clearly showed the gun in Smith's hand as he fled a traffic stop Saturday.

"I want our community to know that," Barrett said.

Flynn declined to identify the officer who shot Smith but said he is black. The police chief said he wasn't sure what prompted the stop but described Smith's car as "behaving suspiciously."

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A gas station burns in Milwaukee, Wisc., after a night of violent protests over a police shooting on August 13, 2016.

WDJT-TV

After watching the officer's body camera footage, Flynn said the entire episode took about 25 seconds, from the start of the traffic stop until shots were fired. He said Smith ran "a few dozen feet" and turned toward the officer while holding a gun.

"It was in his hand. He was raising up with it," the chief said. He said the officer had told Smith to drop the gun and he did not do so. It was unclear how many rounds the officer fired. Smith was hit in the chest and arm, Flynn said.

Gov. Scott Walker activated Wisconsin's National Guard, and 125 Guard members were reporting to local armories to prepare for further instructions. Flynn said they would not be deployed unless the chief decided to do so. Flynn said 150 department officers specially trained in managing big protests had also been mobilized.

Six businesses were burned in the unrest that spilled past midnight Sunday. Seventeen people were arrested, Flynn said, and four officers were hurt from flying concrete and glass, although all of them had been released from hospital.

Walker praised citizens who showed up Sunday to clean up the north side neighborhood where the violence took place. He called for "continued peace and prayer."

According to CBS Milwaukee affiliate WDJT-TV, Sheriff Clarke said: "We cannot allow for a repeat of what happened last night. I am going to utilize all available resources to accomplish that."

Earlier Sunday, volunteers swept and picked up debris in the neighborhood rocked by Saturday's violence.

After dark on Sunday, about a hundred protesters marched to a police station, shouting "Indict. Convict. Send the killer cops to jail," and "Who's streets? Our streets." Police were lined up in riot gear behind a row of squad cars.

Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey, who represents the neighborhood that erupted, said the city's black residents are "tired of living under this oppression."

"Now this is a warning cry. Where do we go from here? Where do we go as a community from here?" he asked.