Madison TV ads focus on officer-involved shootings - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison TV ads focus on officer-involved shootings


MADISON (WKOW) -- A man who lost a son in a Kenosha officer-involved shooting says he's spending $20,000 on television ads in Madison to raise awareness about how police shootings are investigated, in the wake of the death of Madison musician Paul Heenan.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said Wednesday officer Stephen Heimsness violated no policies in his shooting of Heenan on November 9, 2012.

Heenan was unarmed, but authorities say Heenan grappled with Heimsness and appeared to be going for the officer's gun.

Michael Bell tells 27 News his son, Michael Bell, Jr. was also unarmed when fatally shot by a Kenosha police officer. The shooting took place November 9, 2004: exactly eight years before Heenan's shooting death. As in the Heenan case, the officer's shooting was deemed justified.

Bell disputes his son's fatal shooting was justified. Heenan's sister and some of his friends also dispute Wray's decision Heimsness had justification to use deadly force.

Bells says the money to buy Madison television ad time, and billboard space in Madison, is from a more than $1 million settlement his family received over his son's death.

The ad includes squad car video from the Bell shooting incident, and re-enactments. It includes the statement: "Should a police department be left to judge itself?"

Bell tells 27 News Wisconsin's overwhelming reliance on police departments to investigate their own officers, or the use of district attorneys with close ties to police departments, deprives Wisconsin of any check and balance on police conduct.

Bell proposes the state attorney general create a position of special prosecutor to evaluate officer-involved shootings, with the prosecutor to rely on information collected by a review board, to include retired police chiefs, district attorneys, and other stakeholders.

Bell cited as a best practice San Diego's use of a prosecutor to monitor officer-involved shooting investigations. A Dane County sheriff's lieutenant monitored the Madison Police Department's investigation of Heenan's shooting, although the lieutenant produced no report. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne investigated the Heenan shooting, relying on reports compiled by Madison Police, and found Heimsness committed no crimes.

A spokesperson for WISC-TV says the ad on officer-involved shootings began airing Thursday. Spokespersons for WKOW-TV and WMTV-TV said Friday the ad's content is still being reviewed.

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