Mother of Milwaukee man whose death triggered riot has one clear message – and it’s not helpful

The mother of the man shot and killed by a Milwaukee police officer Saturday has been told little about the death of her son and she kept her message to the press real simple.

Looking past her thug son’s actions Saturday when confronted by police and his criminal background, Mildred Haynes‘ only focus Sunday was that an officer killed her son, Sylville Smith.

“My son is gone due to the police killing my son,” Haynes told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I am lost.”

According to police, her son is gone because Smith refused to drop a gun loaded with 23 rounds that he had in his hand when he turned toward the officer giving chase.

And given that Smith has an extensive criminal background and was just charged with using a firearm last year, the officer involved had good cause to be concerned that Smith may use that weapon.

Smith’s criminal history is an all too familiar refrain in America’s inner cities involving drugs, robbery and weapons charges.

The Journal Sentinel reported:

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 witness in the 2015 case would recant a statement identifying Smith as the suspect, resulting in charges in both cases being dismissed.

Haynes told the Journal Sentinel she doesn’t think her son would pull a weapon on police and said he does not have a felony record. The newspaper said court records show he has one prior misdemeanor conviction for carrying a concealed weapon and that the rest of the arrests did not result in charges or were dismissed.

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Smith’s sister, Sherelle Smith, said her brother carried a gun to protect himself, not because he was a violent person.

She added that he didn’t even like to argue and was known around the neighborhood for his style and dance moves, not for being part of a gang.

“He was a ladies’ man,” she said. “That’s the worst thing about him.”

That and a weapon that held 23 rounds in his hand when he turned to face an officer.

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Tom Tillison


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