The investigation is ongoing in the shooting death of Madison musician Paul Heenan, but the family of the victim wants answers sooner rather than later.
Speaking from her home in North Carolina 36 days after her brother died, Heenan's sister Emily says the officer who shot Heenan should be fired. She also questions the manner in which police have released information.
"You know, this could've happened to anyone," said Emily Heenan. "But it happened to my brother."
"I'll never be able to look at a police officer the same again," Emily continued.
Emily Heenan is driven to share her concerns about the case with the entire Madison community, and specifically with Police Chief Noble Wray and District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.
WISC-TV obtained the letter Heenan wrote (PDF) to the two city leaders on December 6.
In it, Heenan writes that the "lack of transparent facts in the case represents a problem for our community."
She also points out that it took the police department several days, four in fact, to confirm Paul was not a burglar but a neighbor in the wrong house, despite that fact being known by the first officers on the scene.
"The time that it took to clear his name should give all of us a cause for reflection," said Heenan. "We want an honest and forthcoming police department, not one that manipulates the release of facts in order to protect its public image."
The incident happened early Friday, November 9. It wasn't until Monday that police first answered any questions on camera from the media.
Chief Wray initially laid out what he called a "deadly force situation," during which Madison police officer Steven Heimsness saw two men "grappling and struggling" and thought the homeowner was struggling with a burglar. The officer said he ordered both to the ground. The homeowner dropped, but Heenan did not.
Heimsness said Heenan grabbed him and reached for his gun, after which he pulled the trigger three times, with all of the shots hitting Heenan, killing him.
"I didn't believe it," Heenan's sister now says. "There's no way. There's no way he could have gone for a gun. He hated guns. He was afraid of guns. He was scared of guns."
"I'm sure he was drunk," continued Heenan. "A lot of people get drunk in Madison. I was a UW student. I saw how people can drink downtown and stumble home. And people will stumble around and be confused and stupid and drunk but they don't get shot. They don't get shot by police officers, but they could. It could have been anybody."
In her letter, Emily Heenan urges the community to ask the tough questions, including does the Madison Police Department have a clean record in using lethal force or "do the powers that be just have a policy of giving the police officers involved the benefit of the doubt?"
Of Heimsness, Heenan says bluntly, "he should be fired."
"I hope the community will never forget this," she continues. "And I hope that they will remember this every time that they have to call the police."
Emily Heenan says she also wants people to remember Paul Heenan as kind and gentle, and she vows to keep fighting for her brother's name.
If she could speak to her brother now, Emily says, "Well, I would tell him that I love him. And I would tell him that I'm going to be strong and I will, and I will be strong and I will get the truth out about this. And I won't let him down."
In response, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told WISC-TV that he had not seen the letter, but he said that even if he had, he said he could not comment on an open investigation.
The DA has yet to decide if he will clear Officer Heimsness of any wrongdoing in that shooting.
The Madison police chief said Monday that he will respond directly to the criticism from the Heenan family but that it will not happen through the media.
On Monday, Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department, said that police "released information on this case as quickly as we had sufficient facts."