When Mayor Soglin gave a press conference this past Tuesday, he said he trusted Chief Wray's decision to exonerate Officer Heimsness when he shot and killed Paulie Heenan last fall. The D.A. and Chief closed the Heenan case by exonerating Officer Heimsness under the premise that they trusted him as a person who uses good judgement and that he was the most trustworthy person on the scene that morning. Mayor Soglin apparently supports this assessment.
The Mayor also supports the idea of an inquest, or D.A. Ozanne taking another look into Officer Heimsness' truthfulness, judgement and intent when he killed Paulie Heenan.
Supporting the Chief would include buying into his convenient removal of 15 seconds from Officer Heimsness' job-ending charge of 118 counts in 4 months of terrible judgement. The 15 seconds the Chief wishes to delete is the time it took Officer Heimsness to decide to end unarmed, submitting Paulie Heenan's life. How can Soglin support Wray's denial and an inquest too? For explanation, he brought in the strongbox wisdom of City Attorney, Michael May.
Soglin read a quote given to him by May and suddenly it all made sense. I took May's words to be a statement in defence of the idea that Officer Heimsness could have changed from his impulsive, intolerant self into the polar opposite of that person during the 15 seconds when he killed Paulie. This despite the last documented violation allegedly committed by Heimsness mere hours before his encounter with Paulie when he wrote, "i'm the right cop for the wrong job", "No witnesses, no problem" May's quote went like this:
"Generally speaking and with some exceptions, evidence of a person's character is not admissible to show that a person acted in conformity with that trait in a given instance. Whether an exception is made in this case is up to the District Attorney."
Notice, May doesn't leave the exception up to Chief Wray's discretion and there is a reason for that. It is very difficult for a District Attorney to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone committed an act of reckless homicide, much harder than it would be for Chief Wray to admit that Heimsness was being Heimsness during those 15 seconds, and that he lost control and violated policy as he so frequently and comfortably does.
To reiterate, just 2 hours before Officer Heimsness killed Paulie, he wrote, "I'm the right cop for he wrong job", "No witnesses, no problem". Michael May appears to tacitly support the notion that, shortly after making this statement, Heimsness could have abandoned his job-ending pattern and practice of dishonest behaviour, racist, sexist and violent comments and poor judgement for 15 seconds - and then gone right back to dodging accountability and lying. I had to double check and make sure Dan Frei wasn't the author of this moonshine logic, but no, it was Michael May.
City Attorney, Michael May's job must be tough to show up for. He appears to be funnelling advice through a screen that sifts away any sense of moral or ethical obligation on the part of city workers. As to the death of Madison resident Paulie Heenan, May's job is to minimize the appearance of city employee responsibility and buy some black-market accountability at a discount price. Soglin and Wray have forgone serving the people at the behest of Michael May hoping this bankrupt strategy will work. This perception, that technicality and lawful denial equals a discounted civil judgement and perceived integrity, is not only disgusting; it's the result of bad math.
May, Soglin, Wray and Frei will cost the city more for dodging in both dollars and trust, because there are those of us in the community who won't tolerate it anymore. There is just no excuse for bad math.
Amelia Royko Maurer
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