Madison police officer to remain on leave

Three internal investigations under way

Published On: Feb 01 2013 03:47:17 PM CST   Updated On: Feb 01 2013 03:48:11 PM CST
Officer Stephen Heimsness
MADISON, Wis. -

Madison police Officer Stephen Heimsness is the subject of three internal investigations of conduct that occurred before his involvement in the shooting of Paul Heenan, according to the police department.

During a Friday news conference, Police Chief Noble Wray called the allegations against Heimsness "troubling." He said none of the incidents are related Heenan's shooting. Two of the investigations were underway before the shooting and one started after the shooting. All of the investigations were started based on complaints from within the department.

Wray refused to comment further on the investigations.

Heimness will remain on paid leave until the investigations are complete and Wray is comfortable returning Heimsness to duty, according to Wray.

Heimsness was cleared of any wrongdoing after he shot and killed Heenan, who was unarmed, on Madison's near east side on Nov. 9 while responding to what he thought was a burglary in progress.

It was later determined that Heenan, who was drunk, had entered a neighbor's house by mistake, prompting a 911 call of a reported break-in.

Wray said the investigations don’t change his belief that Heimsness’ actions in the Heenan shooting were reasonable. He said he made the decision this week to keep Heimsness on leave.

Heimsness received overtime pay while on leave

Heimsness was paid $1010.24 in overtime while on leave during the investigation of Heenan’s shooting death.

Heimsness was on paid leave during the investigation into the shooting. He claimed the overtime pay for a number of days he was called to work, regarding the investigation, on what were considered days off.

The Madison Police Department union contract states, "Employees, on an off duty day...who are called back to duty...shall be paid...a minimum of three hours at the rate of time-and one-half the employee's regular rate of pay."

Joe Durkin, with the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, told WISC-TV Heimsness was also called in for additional meetings on some days that he was getting paid for a regularly scheduled shift, and he did not put in for OT those days, although he could have under the contract language.

DOJ opens investigation

The U.S. Department of Justice said this week it will review the shooting case to determine if Heenan's civil rights were violated by a use of unreasonable force, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.

U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said he asked for the review after receiving up to 100 letters requesting an independent review of the Madison Police Department's internal investigation of the shooting.

The Dane County district attorney reviewed the case and cleared Heimsness of any criminal liability. The Madison Police Department conducted an internal investigation and concluded that Heimsness acted in compliance with department protocol.

The review by the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., will be limited to the question of whether there was a violation of federal law. Vaudreuil said the review will specifically look at whether Heenan's constitutional rights were violated by the use of unreasonable force.

Michael Bell, an advocate for the Heenan family, told WISC-TV that he spoke with Heenan's parents Thursday afternoon and they didn't know about the U.S. attorney's decision then.

"I'm quite surprised. Hopefully it's a good sign. The U.S. attorney doesn't usually step in like this," Bell said.