City officials have organized a community meeting to gain feedback from residents on the death of a Madison man who was shot and killed by a police officer in November.
Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, organized the meeting for next Tuesday at a community church, where attendees will consider the concerns Paul Heenan’s death has brought about. A Madison Police Department officer shot and killed Heenan at his neighbor’s home, and the officer has since been cleared of any wrongdoing.
Heenan, 30, died as a result of a confrontation with Madison police officer Stephen Heimsness Nov. 9, according to an MPD report. The report said Heimsness was called to the scene after an intoxicated Heenan entered the wrong house late at night, and the residents called the police for what they thought was an attempted burglary. Believing himself to be in danger of being disarmed after Heenan allegedly lunged toward the officer, Heimsness shot an intoxicated Heenan three times, the report said.
In a statement, Rummel said her goal in organizing the meeting was to provide a forum for neighborhood residents to share concerns and ask questions about the results of the investigation.
“I believe there is healing power in a restorative justice approach and intend this meeting to be the first step in a longer process,” Rummel said.
The meeting will have a panel consisting of members from the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, MPD and community members. The statement said the panel will focus on discussing the use of force, investigation policy, training and policies for putting an officer back on the street after a shooting.
In an email to The Badger Herald, Rummel said she hopes to initiate a thorough discussion about what happened to ensure it does not happen again. She said she hopes community members will ask about the investigative process and department training procedures for the use of deadly force.
“I expect to hear concerns that an unarmed person who mistakenly entered the wrong house is dead,” she said in the email. “I expect to hear questions about training practices, policies and whether we need additional options for investigating cases of excessive force.”
One of Heenan’s close friends, Amelia Royko Maurer, said people will come to the meeting with a lot of questions. She said she anticipates the guests to inquire why there have been so many shootings resulting in death on the east side, how police deal with mental health issues and the use of force.
According to Maurer, community members have already written down hundreds of questions in preparation for the meeting.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he expected a high turnout from the community at the meeting.
“I concur with [Ald. Rummel] that this meeting will help with the healing process and hopefully address many of the questions that community members still have and perhaps have up until now gone unanswered,” Verveer said.
This will be the first of many meetings on this topic, Verveer said.
The meeting will take place Jan. 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Bethany Evangelical Free Church.