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Protesters rally over shooting investigation

Published On: Jan 30 2013 02:51:49 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2013 09:02:48 AM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

Feelings of anger, shock, disbelief, and distrust are rampant after a Madison police officer Steven Heimsness was exonerated this week in the shooting death of Paul Heenan.

To combat those feelings, some are efforting to keep Heenan's case – and his memory – alive.

Friends of Heenan and others upset by the entire ordeal gathered on the steps of the City-County building on Saturday to demand justice.

"Serious questions have gone unanswered," said Heenan family friend Samuel Stevenson. "What we've seen this week is you can use lethal force against an unarmed person and not lose your job and not really have any serious consequences come to you."

Organizers said about 200 people attended the rally for Heenan, the Madison musician shot and killed by officer Heimsness in November.

"I don't believe the community at large will really be able to trust the Madison police department as much as we deserve to until policies change," continued Stevenson.

Heenan's friends said an independent review is an important first step in restoring public trust.

"I would trust it more," said Nicole Miller of the Web site pauliesgift.org. "I would trust a result a lot more if it had an independent conclusion."

Miller and other friends are hoping Heenan's passion for music will help bring the community together.

They're planning a music festival to remember him.

"We've gotten together and formed a group called Paulie's Gift that we've put together to honor his memory and honor his life," said Miller.

Stevenson claims other communities already use an independent panel of professionals and citizens to investigate cases like Heenan's.

They plan to continue lobbying elected officials to get those same changes in place in Madison.

"When they do inevitably and tragically occur again in the future, there's already a policy and in place to deal with them in an independent and credible manner," argued Stevenson.

Police said the rally was peaceful and no incidents were reported related to it.

Earlier this week, Chief Noble Wray released the findings of the internal investigation into the shooting death of Paul Heenan.

In that report, MPD determined that Officer Heimsness acted within department policies.

In a department first, Chief Wray released the 40-page internal summary to the public.

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