Paul Heenan Case: Focus Shifts to Record of Madison Police Officer Heimsness

Monday, 12 Nov 2012 05:13 PM

By Michael Mullins

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In the early morning hours of Friday, Nov. 9, Paul Heenan, 30, was shot and killed by a Madison, Wisc. police officer responding to a burglary call in progress.

Heenan recently returned home to Madison after an eight-year stint in New York City where he worked and performed with other artists.

According to a report by Madison’s NBC15 local news, police responded to the scene to find Heenan scuffling outside with a man after allegedly breaking into the man’s home. According to police, Heenan was told repeatedly to stop and get down to the ground. These demands were allegedly ignored and a physical confrontation between the officer and Heenan ensued, according to the police report, resulting in Heenan being shot.

Paramedics were immediately called, but were unable to save Heenan’s life.

The officer, a 15-year veteran identified as Stephen Heimsness, was put on administrative leave pending an investigation, which police say is standard protocol.

According to Madison’s ABC27 local news Heimsness had previously been suspended for excessive force 11 years ago when he fired his sidearm at the tires of a car fleeing the scene of a crime.

In 2006, Heimsness again received media attention when he kicked a Madison resident whom he was in the process of arresting outside a bar.

The individual filed a claim against the city and received $27,000 as a result of Heimsness’ actions. Following an internal investigation by police, accordign to WKOW.com, the department cleared Heimsness of all charges, considering the individual was resisting arrest and a bar employee’s testimony described Heimsness’ response as “appropriate.”

Jason Peterson, a friend of Heenan for 15 years, said in an NBC15 interview that he was in “shock and disbelief” when he heard about the shooting.

“There wasn’t any bone in his body that would give you that inkling. That was just not him to any degree,” adds Peterson.

The sentiments were repeated during a reading at Heenan’s funeral service provided to Madison’s NBC15 local news website. Heenan was described by loved ones as being “Loyal and dependable . . . Outgoing and engaging . . . A compassionate person, he espoused civil rights, animal welfare and human dignity.”

According to local news outlets in Madison, Heenan appears to have no local criminal history.

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