Officer Involved Shooting

February 1, 2013

Chief Wray's Letter To The Community

A letter to the community from Chief Noble Wray:

This afternoon, I want to share with the community new information regarding Madison Police Officer Steve Heimsness.

First, I want to thank members of the community for continuing to bring to my attention their concerns since the death of Paul Heenan. I would also like to thank those members of the community who have continued to show their support for this department during these very difficult times. And, I want to thank the men and women of this police department for continuing to do their jobs with the utmost professionalism, even as many struggle with all that is happening.

We have investigated Officer Heimsness use of force related to the Heenen shooting and have found his actions to be objectively reasonable and within Madison Police Department policy. This criminal investigation was monitored by a lieutenant of the Dane County Sheriff's Office, and the results of the investigation were reviewed by State of Wisconsin Department of Justice's Training and Standards Bureau experts and Dane County Medical Examiner's office officials. The the Dane County District Attorney Office has investigated this matter, and has cleared the officer of any criminal liability in this case.

Subsequent to the investigation, I had concerns about Officer Heimsness' safety and ability to serve as a patrol officer in this community due to threats made against him. In addition, I felt the need for a transition plan to allow for his return to patrol duties to be developed. For these reasons, he was not permitted to return to patrol duty.

Concurrent with the shooting investigation, I was made aware of information leading to three additional internal investigations into the conduct of Officer Heimsness. These incidents occurred prior to the shooting, and were not considered to be directly related. Subsequently, these investigations were set aside to complete the shooting investigation. Although these investigations are not complete, I find the preliminary information to be troubling. This information does not; however, change my conclusion that Officer Heimsness' actions were objectively reasonable and within Madison Police Department policy.

The U.S. Department of Justice is in the process of reviewing the officer involved shooting. The U.S. Department of Justice initiated this process in response to citizen requests. I welcome this additional review, and have already sent the entire original investigative file to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Additionally, when these new investigations are complete, we will be sharing the information arising from them, not just with the U.S. Department of Justice, but with all agencies that have assisted in reviewing this case.

Until these matters have been fully investigated, Officer Heimsness will not be assigned to patrol duties and I have placed him on administrative leave. I will consider permitting him to return to a patrol assignment only when I am fully confident these allegations and my concerns are unfounded.

I want say I continue to feel great remorse and sadness for Paul Heenan's family. My heart also goes out to the Baldwin Street community, and particularly to the O'Malley family. I am also concerned for the well being of Officer Heimsness, his family, and the members of this department who have been impacted by this incident.

I know these are difficult days for our community, as well as for everyone within the Madison Police Department. I want to emphasize that I have full confidence in the men and women of this department, and in their professionalism, and ability to serve our community. The public should share this confidence.

Contact:
  • Joel DeSpain, 266-4897