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Officer involved in shooting has history of controversy

Published On: Nov 10 2012 02:49:13 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 12 2012 12:54:32 PM CST
Officer Stephen Heimsness

Officer Stephen Heimsness


On Sunday, Madison police revealed the identities of the officers involved in the Friday shooting that killed Paul Heenan, 30, of Madison.

Police said Officer Stephen Heimsness was the officer who was "directly involved in the incident." Heimsness has been on the Madison police force for 15 years. Officer Stacy Troumbly provided emergency life-saving measures on Heenan after he was shot. Troumbly joined the MPD in 2011.

Both officers are on administrative leave, which is standard protocol.

Heimsness is treasurer of the police officers' union, and his biography lists him as a third-shift patrol officer in the central district, an assignment that has twice before put him in the center of controversy.

WISC-TV3 News records reveal that In 2001, Heimsness shot out the tires of a car driving recklessly in a campus area parking ramp.

The Dane County DA decided not to file charges against Heimsness, but records indicate that he was suspended 15 days without pay for using excessive force.

Then in 2006, Heimsness's alleged actions led the department to ultimately pay out $27,000 to settle a different case. reported that Heimsness bashed a man's head into the floor at a downtown bar as Heimsness tried to arrest the man.

The City Controller's office said Heimsness used excessive force, but the DA's office again did not file charges.

Now the latest case, in which police say Heimsness was directly involved in the shooting death of 30-year-old Paul Heenan.

Heenan was a musician and friends say he was a non-violent person and that he had stumbled into the wrong home early Friday morning on South Baldwin St.

The homeowners called 911, after which the male homeowner apparently recognized Heenan and began walking him home.

Officer Heimsness pulled up and saw what he viewed as the two men struggling. Police then say Heenan confronted Heimsness physically and apparently that's when Heimsness shot.

Questions that have yet to be answered by Madison Police included whether Heenan was armed, how exactly he confronted Heimsness, and how many shots Heimsness fired.

It was on Saturday afternoon that Heenan's body was identified. The Dane County Medical Examiner's office confirmed that Heenan’s death was the "result of firearm-related trauma," and that "additional testing in this case is currently underway."

There was no toxicology information included in the coroner’s Saturday report.

Heenan was affiliated with the local band, Hometown Sweetharts. Late Saturday night, the band issued a statement to WISC-TV.

"We are absolutely destroyed by this huge tragedy. Paulie was a dear friend to us.  He was a sweet, caring and talented guy that would go out of his way to help everyone he knew. His wide range of talents were an indispensable part of many of the musical projects we've been involved in over the past 10 years. He was nothing but positive and supportive of us. We are left with a giant hole in his absence. We will miss Paulie forever," wrote Scott Beardsley, Chris Boeger, and Nate Palan, members of Hometown Sweethearts.

Meanwhile, Heenan's roommates are also breaking their silence on the incident.

Nate and Amelia Royko Maurer moved in with Heenan on South Baldwin Street about a week ago.  Amelia and her daughter had dinner with "Paulie," grabbed dessert, and played Uno with him, then wished him farewell as he went out to scope out bands.

The Royko Maurers said Heenan moved in with the family in hopes of building a studio in the house and pursuing music in Madison. They described him as kind and supportive, and noticed a maternal instinct that he had when it came to caring for others.

"We're really sad," Amelia explained. "We have to tell our six-year-old that her best buddy is gone."

Early Friday morning, Nate woke up to loud fighting noises outside.

"I heard somebody shout in a really loud gruff voice, 'Get down! Get down!' And then immediately after that I heard gun shots," Nate said.

Nate ran down the stairs, only to spot something he would never expect so close to his front porch.

"I saw something that, I looked like, you know, off the corner of the roof that looked like a body," Nate explained.

It was not until police commotion calmed down that he and Amelia realized it was Heenan’s dead body on the sidewalk.

"Never in my mind would I, could I possibly imagine that they would for any reason do that to him," Amelia said.

Now, for the Royko Maurers, it is a lot of frustration of the unknown. Amelia listed a number of unanswered questions about the investigation, wondering if the officers had tasers, if they gave any threatening people a warning, if they were in enough danger to pull the trigger.

Madison Police would not provide any additional information or go in front of  television cameras about the case, despite requests and questions asked over the weekend.

Police reported Friday that they responded to a call for a burglary in progress in the 500 block of South Baldwin Street. An officer saw two men struggling outside of a home. One of those men – presumably Heenan – reportedly "engaged in a physical confrontation with the officer," during which he was shot and killed.

Sources close to Heenan say it was a misunderstanding. They say Heenan wandered into a residence two doors down from his own house accidentally. As a woman upstairs was calling police, her husband went downstairs and recognized Heenan.  According to accounts from friends and family, police pulled up as the neighbor was helping Heenan get back to his home.

Amelia still maintains that this was no burglary or intentional break-in and wants to see this case looked at very carefully.

"It was a mistake, and he was not a violent person, he hates guns, he's kind, he's gentle, he mirrors what this neighborhood is about," Amelia said.

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