The latest fatal officer-involved shooting of an African-American man has the Milwaukee community in an uproar, but the father of the 23-year-old victim says he feels he’s partly to blame for his son’s life being cut short.
Sylville Smith was allegedly fleeing from police on foot following a traffic stop on Saturday when the officers say he turned and pointed a gun at them. The officers claim they then instructed Smith to drop the gun and began firing when he didn’t comply, fatally striking him once in the chest and once in the arm.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn told reporters that the body cam footage taken from the officer who shot Smith clearly shows him turn and point a gun at police and is ultimately what led to his death, but Smith’s father says he also takes partial responsibility for the incident. “I had to blame myself for a lot of things, too, because your hero is your dad and I played a very big part in my family’s role model for them,” Patrick Smith told WITI TV in an interview on Sunday. “Being on the street, doing things of the street life: Entertaining, drug dealing and pimping ― and they’re looking at their dad like, ‘He’s doing all these things.’
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Smith’s father went on to briefly speak on his own issues with the law recently, revealing that he was released from a stint in jail two months ago, before apologizing to his children for being what he described as the “wrong” kind of role model. “I got out of jail two months ago, but I’ve been going back and forth in jail and they see those things. So I’d like to apologize to my kids because this is the role model they look up to. When they see the wrong role model, this is what you get.”
Tensions remained sky high between the local Milwaukee community and law enforcement for much of Sunday and Monday as protests continued for the majority of the 48 hours following Smith’s death, but the streets were reportedly much calmer just ahead of a strict 10PM curfew imposed by authorities that took effect on Monday evening. An investigation into Smith’s death is currently underway.