MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison police officer who is under investigation for a shooting that killed a burglary suspect Friday was previously suspended for using excessive force.
Sources have confirmed to 27 News' Tony Galli that Stephen Heimsness is the officer police say shot the suspect after a confrontation with the man on South Baldwin Street. A statement from Madison Police spokesperson Joel DeSpain on Friday only identified the involved officer as a man with fifteen years experience on the police force. Records show Heimsness was hired in 1997.
In the statement, DeSpain said a woman in a household of two adults and four children called 911 at 2:45 a.m. after hearing someone entering their home. The statement says after arriving, police officers saw the intruder and another man, Paul Heenan, 30, struggling outside the house. Police say a confrontation ensued between Heenan and an officer, that the officer repeatedly told him to get down, and that Heenan was shot by the officer during the confrontation.
Heenan's friends tell 27 News he was a respected musician and recording engineer who recently moved back to Madison from New York and lived on South Baldwin Street. Electronic court records indicate he has no apparent criminal history in Wisconsin.
Heimsness was suspended for fifteen days for using excessive force in connection with a police response in 2001. Heimsness fired gunshots at the tires of a fleeing suspect's car in downtown Madison's Lake Street ramp.
In 2010, the city of Madison paid a $27,000 claim to Jacob Bauer over what the Isthmus newspaper reported was listed by the city controller as "MPD officer used excessive force" in connection with actions by Heimsness. Police reports show Heimsness kicked a prone Bauer as he tried to arrest Bauer in a downtown bar on Dec. 29, 2006. Reports show a bar employee called 911 in reaction to Heimsness's treatment of Bauer. But reports also show another bar employee stated Heimsness' actions were appropriate, given Bauer's conduct in the bar and his resisting arrest. An internal police investigation cleared Heimsness and Dane County's district attorney filed no criminal charges.
Heimsness is the treasurer of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association. In a newsletter to union membership on candidates for association positions, Heimsness referenced being disciplined.
"I have been involved in representing members undergoing disciplinary procedures for many years and have always sought to be the strongest advocate for our members as well as a buffer for them in those proceedings," Heimsness wrote. "No joke there, as I consider this to be the most important aspect of serving on the board. The reason I initially ran for a seat on the board was to give back after I was the focus of an investigation. I understand what it is like to be under that microscope and how important it is to have a union representative there on your side."
In 2003, Heimsness received a commendation for preventing the escape of an armed suspect.
27 News has been unable to reach Heimsness for comment.
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