Madison Police Department Chief Noble Wray addressed the concerns of the community and details of the incident after a MPD officer shot and killed a man early Friday morning.
Paul Heenan, 30, died as the result of a physical confrontation between himself and MPD officer Stephen Heimsness. Heimsness originally reported to a home on the 500 block of South Baldwin Street for a burglary in progress.
“We did respond to a complaint of a burglary in progress, but that is not what the incident turned out to be,” Wray said.
Wray said Heimsness walked up to the house and saw Heenan and the homeowner “grappling” outside, pulled out his service weapon and then ordered the two men to “get down.” He said Heenan swore at the officer, got approximately 15 to 20 feet away from him and tried to reach for his gun.
Heimsness then fired three shots at Heenan because he believed his life was in danger, Wray said. He added after Heenan was shot, MPD Officer Stacy Troumbly began performing life-saving aid.
Wray said police were originally called to the scene when Heenan allegedly walked into the homeowner’s house instead of his own. MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said there was a key stuck in the door, allowing Heenan to enter the threshold of the house.
The homeowner attempted to help get Heenan back to his house and suffered injuries on his arm after the struggle, Wray said.
The evidence for the investigation is based on officer statements, Wray said. He said he is not aware of any video footage of the incident.
Wray said Heimsness previously served a 15-day suspension with MPD after an incident in December 2006.
According to an MPD statement, Heimsness and MPD Officer Corey Urso reported to State Street for a disturbance between two males Dec. 30, 2006. Ellisa Parker, bartender of State Street Brats, filed a complaint against the officers and said Heimsness kicked one of the suspects in the head and neck with his foot several times, the statement said. It added Parker accused Heimsness of being “very aggressive” with the suspect.
Wray said Heimsness’ suspension occurred before he became the MPD chief.
MPD Officer Minh Duc “Kimba” Tieu said the incident Friday was considered high-risk and very unpredictable. He said Heimsness’ behavior was consistent with what MPD officers are taught in training.
“It was certainly appropriate and within training to have that service weapon out in response to a burglary,” Tieu said.
Heimsness was given additional training after his 15-day suspension, according to Wray.
DeSpain added in response to another burglary Sunday night, a MPD officer pulled out a service weapon in a similar manner to the incident Friday morning. He said in the Sunday incident, the suspect complied with the officer.
Officers are required to have handcuffs, a service weapon, an accessible baton and chemical spray in their possession when responding to a burglary, Tieu said.
Wray said there are several reports that indicate Heenan was intoxicated during the incident, but it is not confirmed. He said going into the wrong home and then struggling with the homeowner is not typical behavior. He added most people comply when an officer instructs them to “get down.”
According to Wray, the investigation is ongoing. He said the investigation will be sent to the district attorney for review sometime mid-week. He added a number of community meetings are being planned and discussed in light of the incident.