Man shot by Milwaukee Police was subject of witness intimidation case

Sylville Smith, who was shot by Milwaukee Police when he turned on an officer holding a gun in the midst of a foot pursuit, had an extensive criminal record by the age of 23.  Even his godmother, Katherine Mahmoud, admitted, “I'm not going to say he was an angel.  He was out here living his life.”

Smith had managed to avoid any felony convictions, having only a misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed weapon.  But, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

Smith had been in trouble with the law dating back at least to 2011, according to arrest records released by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office late Sunday. He was arrested or ticketed nine times in that period — for the shooting, a robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, theft, possession of heroin and more. His most recent arrest was July 22 for possession of cocaine, records show.

Last year, Smith was charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety and with witness intimidation, but the charges were dismissed, court records show.

The charges were dropped even though the prosecutors had recorded jail calls in which Smith asked his girlfriend to pressure the victim to recant, according to court records.

In the witness intimidation case, Smith was accused of pressuring the victim in a shooting to recant a statement identifying him as the suspect, according to the criminal complaint.

That case was dismissed at the preliminary hearing because the alleged victim reversed himself and he was, in fact, not intimidated by Smith, contrary to the allegations in the complaint, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said Sunday in an email.

So far absent from this case is any phrase like “gentle giant” or childhood pictures of Smith looking angelic.  He is not being portrayed by the media as an innocent victim.  In fact, this morning, it has been announced that the body cam video shows Smith turning on a police officer while holding his gun.  Perhaps when the tape is released, the rioters who kept the riot again for a second night will calm down.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol