April 23, 2014

No charges for Madison officer in fatal shooting

The Dane County District Attorney will not file any charges against a Madison police officer who shot and killed a man he thought was a burglary suspect. DA Ismael Ozanne says a review of physical evidence at the scene and witness testimony backs up the story of Officer Stephen Heimsness of the events leading up to the shooting death of 30-year-old Paul Heenan outside a home near downtown Madison.

Heimsness shot Heenan in the early morning hours of November 9th, after the officer responded to a burglary in progress call.

According to the DA’s report, Heenan had apparently tried to enter the wrong house and the homeowners called 911. Between that call and when police arrived, the homeowner recognized Heenan and realized he was just trying to enter the wrong house. The homeowner tried to walk the man he recognized as a neighbor home, but told police that Heenan started to struggle with him and “grabbed onto his arms in an aggressive manner.”

Officer Heimsness arrived on the scene and saw both men struggling on the sidewalk with the door to the home open. He drew his weapon and ordered both men to get to the ground. The homeowner complied, but Heenan advanced on the officer and tried to grab the arm holding his gun. Heimsness told investigators “he believed Heenan was attempting to disarm him and that his life was in danger.”

Heimsness was able to break free of Heenan’s grip, which is when he fire three shots in quick succession.

While Officer Heimsness has been cleared of criminal liability, MPD Officer Howard Paine says an internal investigation into the incident is ongoing. Paine says Heimsness remains on leave until that investigation is complete.

Robin Colbert, WIBA