Social media threats toward Milwaukee officer intensify

Close to 3,000 people have shared a Facebook photo that includes the officer's name and home address

Associated Press

MILWAUKEE  — A Milwaukee police officer has been targeted by online threats from people who say he fatally shot the black man whose death has sparked violence in the city.

Police haven't released the name of the officer who shot Sylville Smith on Saturday, but widely shared social media posts and at least one news report Tuesday identified him as a 24-year-old patrolman — matching the age and departmental experience that police released. Many posts contained threats against him and a photo.

A young girl walks between police in a park in Milwaukee, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016.
A young girl walks between police in a park in Milwaukee, Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

The department said in a statement Tuesday it has noticed a "disturbing national trend" in which social media users have identified officers involved in fatal shootings and threatened them and their families. A spokesman declined to confirm the identity being circulated online.

The department said it is aware of some local threats against its officers and is investigating.

Smith, 23, was shot and killed Saturday after a brief foot chase that followed a traffic stop. Police say Smith had a gun in his hand when he turned toward the officer, who opened fire. The state is investigating.

The officer is also black.

A few hours after the shooting, violence erupted on the city's largely black north side, with protesters hurling rocks at police and burning six businesses. A lighter night of protests followed Sunday. Monday was calm, though 10 people were arrested. There were no reports of protesters Tuesday.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press

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