BLACK VOICES

Sylville Smith's Father Blames Himself For Being 'Wrong Role Model'

Milwaukee authorities imposed a curfew to ward off a third night of unrest.

The father of an African-American man whose shooting death by Milwaukee police set off a weekend of unrest blamed himself for being the “wrong role model” to his children. 

Patrick Smith connected his lifestyle to Saturday night’s fatal police shooting of his son, 23-year-old Sylville Smith, in an interview with TV station WITI on Sunday. Police said Sylville Smith was killed after fleeing from a traffic stop and pointing a gun at a black officer.

“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 said. “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.’

“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.”

Sylville Smith was shot in the chest and arm, according to Police Chief Edward Flynn, who discussed the shooting on Monday.

Authorities on Monday imposed a 10 p.m curfew for teenagers, hoping to avert a third night of disturbances that have included bursts of gunfire, and fires set to businesses. 

Sylville Smith had numerous prior arrests, according to authorities. He pleaded guilty in November to misdemeanor possession of a firearm, and charges of intimidating a witness and recklessly endangering safety were dismissed.

Patrick Smith said he was troubled by the presence of guns and drugs in some pockets of Milwaukee.

“I’ve gotta start with my kids and we gotta change our ways, to be better role models,” Smith said. “And we gotta change ourselves. We’ve gotta talk to them, put some sense into them. “

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