Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn disclosed at a news conference today that both the 23-year-old man whose fatal shooting sparked riots and arson, and the police officer who shot him, are black. Sylville K. Smith had a lengthy arrest record before he was shot to death by a Milwaukee police officer who had stopped him and another occupant of vehicle. According to Mayor Tom Barrett (D), an image taken from the officer's body camera shows "without question" that he had a firearm in his hand when he was shot. The police voiced concerns for the safety of the black police officer.
Chief Flynn said in a press conference today that he is not certain of the reason for the traffic stop that preceded the shooting. However, Flynn said Smith’s car was "behaving suspiciously." Smith had refused to drop his weapon when ordered by police. The weapon found in Smith's possession had been taken from a Waukesha, Wisconsin, home that had been burglarized earlier this year.
“A young man lost his life (Saturday) afternoon. No matter what, his family has to be hurting. There was a body camera the officer was wearing. The video will be under the jurisdiction of the state of Wisconsin. I have seen a still photo extracted from that video. That photo demonstrates, without question, that (Smith) had a gun in his hand. The police officer didn’t know it at the time, but there were 23 rounds in that gun. He had more bullets in his gun than the police officer had in his gun. What that police officer encountered was an individual who had a gun in his hand,” Barrett said.
The outspoken sheriff of Milwaukee County, David Clarke -- a frequent critic of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats -- vowed that he will not allow a repeat of the violence. He called on the National Guard to protect citizens and property in the city. He spoke to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker today and requested help.
Some 100 people got together at the ruins of an auto parts store in the Sherman Park neighborhood in north Milwaukee where the rioting and arson erupted last night. Members of the Greater New Birth Church gathered to pray and sing hymns while asking for peace.
Rep. Gwen Moore (D), who belongs to the all-Democrat Congressional Black Caucus, said that race issues should be discussed peacefully and that no one should "take out their aggressions on our local businesses and homes."
At least 17 people have been arrested as a result of the violence, while four officers were hurt. Six businesses, including a gas station, were burned. Chief Flynn said today that gunshot tracking technology picked up several possible shots during the chaos. Amateur video recorded the sound of apparent gun shots as rioters burned down property and targeted whites for beat-downs. A 16-year-old girl was hospitalized after being hit by a stray bullet. Mayor Tom Barrett (D) expressed his pride in Milwaukee police officers and their "tremendous restraint." He says they did not fire a single shot.