An unarmed man shot and killed by a Madison Police officer last Friday was not a burglar. But police chief Noble Wray says it's too early in the investigation to confirm that the shooting was a justified use of deadly force.
Details of the investigation released so far confirm that the victim, 30-year-old Paul Heenan mistakenly entered the wrong house just before 3 am Friday. Police responded to a 911 call from the wife of the homeowner about a possible burglary. Heenan had just moved to Madison a week ago and was staying with a friend in a similar looking house two doors down the block. When police arrived, Heenan and the homeowner were struggling with each other in the front yard. The homeowner was trying to help Heenan understand he was at the wrong house. Officer Stephen Heimsness drew his gun and ordered them both to get down on the ground. The homeowner put his hands up and backed away, but Chief Wray says Heenan walked quickly toward the officer and grabbed his arm. Seconds later, Officer Heimsness fired his gun, killing Heenan, "At the time that the officer fired, what we had was that Heenan had grabbed his arm and the officer believed that with the other had that he was going after the gun."
Wray says the investigation is continuing and officer Heimsness remains on suspension. But Wray says all the facts suggest the use deadly force was justified, "Any time you get a citizen in close proximity to police officer and their weapon in that close proximity and you have an aggressive move I think it does produce a deadly force situation. I can't go much further than that."
Wray says the Dane County Sheriff's department has a team shadowing the Madison Police department's internal investigation of the incident, but only one report will be produced and submitted to the district attorney who will make the final decision on whether the shooting was justified.