An internal Madison Police Department investigation of a Madison police officer involved in the shooting death of Paul Heenan found the officer to be in compliance with police department policies and training.
The ruling was announced during a news conference with Madison Police Chief Noble Wray Wednesday.
WISC-TV has obtained an audio recording of communications between a Dane County 911 dispatcher and Madison police responding to the incident.
Officer Stephen Heimsness will be assigned back to a patrol, but Wray said where and when that happens has not been determined.
In the report, Wray stated that it’s undisputed that Heenan, 30, didn’t comply with Heimsness’ commands and became physically engaged with officer Heimsness in the Nov. 9 incident in the 500 block of Baldwin Street.
Wray's report stated that Heimness saw two men in a struggle as he was responding to a report of a burglary in the area. The officer drew his gun and gave loud verbal commands.
He said Heenan didn't follow Heimsness' commands and Heenan moved quickly toward the officer. The report stated officer Heimness had the impression Heenan was attempting to grab his handgun.
"Officer Heimsness believed he was in imminent danger of being disarmed and that his life was in imminent danger," according to the report.
Heimsness fired three shots after getting distance between him and Heenan and struck Heenan with all three shots, according to the report.
Fifteen seconds passed between when Heimsness saw the struggle between the homeowner and when shots were fired, according to the investigation.
A video was played during the news conference showing a neighbor, Kevin O'Malley, explaining to officers the details of how the shooting occurred.
O'Malley said Heimness, after deadly shots fired, looked to other police officer and said, "He went for my gun."
O’Malley indicated to Heimsness that Heenan was a neighbor before the shooting, but officer Heimsness didn’t hear O’Malley, according to Wray.
"Officer [Heimsness] may not have identified himself, but gave quick commands, which enforces the fluidity and speed of situation," said Wray.
The report stated, "Confronting potential burglary suspects is a high-risk and dangerous activity for police officers; officers are trained to address such suspects at gunpoint."
Officers tried to address questions about the incident. Officer Kimba Tieu told reporters the transition from an officer using a Taser to a firearm in the event of deadly force situation may prove to be too long if the subject produces a weapon.
He and Sgt. Jason Freedman performed a demonstration showing how long an officer has to react in a deadly force situation.
Sgt. Freedman addressed the question of why three shots were fired by explaining that officers are trained to shoot until the threat is stopped.
He also said there's a gap between when the officer sees that there's no longer a threat and when the officer can make the decision to stop shooting.
"We can't train for every eventuality. So there has to be a degree of discretion we leave to the officers," said officer Tieu.
"I deeply regret the tragic circumstances leading to the death of Paul Heenan," Wray said.
Dane County prosecutors cleared Heimsness any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Heenan's shooting.
In his ruling on the case, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said a homeowner awoke to find his neighbor, Heenan, in his house.