Questions linger in police shooting

More than two weeks after the Madison Police Department released a report which cleared an officer who fatally shot an unarmed man, many community members remain dissatisfied.

Dozens of neighborhood residents attended a meeting at a Madison church Tuesday night, looking for answers in the November 9th shooting of 30 year-old Paul Heenen, by Officer Stephen Heimsness.

A lot of the questions were already answered at a lengthy police press conference at the time the report was released, but one question that MPD has yet to address to any  satisfaction is whether or not the department ought to be conducting its own investigation of such incidents. Police Chief Noble Wray told the community meeting that it won’t occur in this case. “At this juncture I don’t see a reason for external review of this investigation,” said Wray.

In many Wisconsin police and sheriff’s departments, another law enforcement agency it brought in to conduct investigations of officer involved shootings. A civilian review board has also been suggested.

Former Madison police chief David Couper, who headed the department for more than 20 years, writes that the Heenan shooting “will become a moral dilemma for a police department that has enjoyed a high level of community trust, respect and support for over 40 years.” Couper writes that MPD policy “highly cautioned the use of deadly force.”

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