Madison police to release shooting investigation Wednesday
DA clears police officer in fatal shooting
An internal Madison Police Department investigation of a Madison police officer involved in the shooting death of Paul Heenan will be released Wednesday.
Madison Police Chief Noble Wray will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. Wednesday to announce the findings of the internal investigation into officer Stephen Heimsness. Channel 3000 plans to livestream the news conference.
Dane County prosecutors have cleared Heimsness any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Heenan's shooting.
The Madison Police Department said it will not process open records requests on the matter until after the news conference.
In his ruling on the case, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said a homeowner awoke to find his neighbor, Heenan, in his house on Nov. 9.
The homeowner's wife called Madison police, reporting a home burglary. It was later discovered that Heenan, 30, was new to the neighborhood and attempted entering the wrong house. Heenan had been drinking and was confused, according to police.
Prosecutors said Heenan had a blood-alcohol content of 0.208 percent.
"I don't believe this could happen to just anyone. People every day in our community are intoxicated. Yet they still don't go up to people's homes and open doors in the middle of the night. That doesn't happen," Ozanne said.
Heimsness arrived at the scene with his weapon drawn.
"The reality is law enforcement was responding to a burglary in progress. This is a felony situation where you had people home in the house, calling, with children," Ozanne said.
Ozanne said Heimsness saw two men in a physical struggle on the sidewalk near 513 S. Baldwin St. and he recognized one of the men as the husband of the woman who had reported the break-in.
According to Ozanne's statement, Heimsness and the homeowner said Heenan charged Heimsness, who had his gun drawn and was giving commands for Heenan to get on the ground.
The officer said there was a struggle and he thought Heenan was trying to grab his gun and he fired because he feared for his life.
Heimsness fired three shots after getting distance between him and Heenan, according to Ozanne.
Ozanne concluded Heimsness didn't violate any statutes. The prosecutor said anyone who believes he or she faces a genuine threat of deadly force can respond with deadly force.
The homeowner told police he believed Heenan was drunk and he was attempting to take him to his house down the street. He said Heenan had come at him and was pushing him backwards.
Ozanne said evidence, including witness statements, officer statements, physical evidence, State Crime Lab findings and Medical Examiner findings are consistent with each other.
There has been an increased level of scrutiny surrounding Heimsness because of his use of force in two separate incidents.
In 2006, Heimsness reportedly kneed and kicked a man he was arresting at a downtown bar, which the Madison Police Department determined was within reason for the situation. But the city of Madison settled a $27,000 deal with the man's attorney after witnesses said that he was intentionally struck in the head by Heimsness in the incident.
In 2001, Heimsness fired his gun, shooting out the front tires of a car in a university-area parking garage. Heimsness said he thought the driver was going to hit him. He was suspended without pay for 15 days for the incident.
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