Community, officials work on rebuilding trust after shooting - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Community, officials work on rebuilding trust after police shooting

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MADISON (WKOW) -- On Madison's east side, the community came together Tuesday night to talk with police about the shooting that killed Paul Heenan.

It was a full house at a church just down the road from the Baldwin Street home where Heenan was shot by Officer Stephen Heimsness. A community panel met on stage with Chief Noble Wray and other police officials, along with District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.

The community panel had a chance to directly ask questions for the first time, bringing up topics like justifying police use of deadly force and how officers are trained to deal with intoxicated people.

The biggest question Heenan's friends and family have had since his death is whether an outside investigation is needed, despite an internal investigation within the police department and the DA's investigation. Both reports found Officer Heimsness acted within his rights as an officer.

Ozanne responded, saying he believed the investigations were truthful, and he based much of his report on the account from Kevin O'Malley, the homeowner involved in the shooting and the only real witness.

"It's a great help to have a disinterested third party witness," says Ozanne. "I'm not certain what you believe an outside investigation beyond this one would show."

Both sides also questioned the public's trust in the police department after what happened.

"Mr. O'Malley was quoted as saying I feel terrible for calling the police," says community panel member Rick Hegwood. "What do you think of that sentiment?"

In response, Chief Wray said that's why the department agreed to the meeting Tuesday night.

"We want to make sure people feel comfortable calling police, we want people to feel safe in Madison, we're going to do what we can to work on that sentiment."

Wray says re-building the community's trust could take time, but he says he plans to work on it one step at a time.

When asked about whether the police department would consider an outside party looking into the case, Chief Wray said again that he believes the department's review is fair and impartial and doesn't see a reason for further investigation, but he said he wouldn't be opposed to discussing department procedures in the future.

Wray also said that the department is looking at current policy and procedures right now, to determine whether anything needs to be altered, but he said he can't see any immediate changes needed.

Wray also said that Officer Heimsness will not be back out on patrol in the Baldwin Street neighborhood where the shooting occurred, but he will be back on the streets at some point. Officials haven't determined where or when he'll be assigned yet.

Mayor Paul Soglin also attended the meeting. He was not on the panel, but sat observing in the audience. Soglin declined discussing the case Tuesday night. 

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The community will come together to ask questions and share concerns about the November officer-involved shooting.

Alder Marsha Rummel has organized the meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night, to give the public a chance to talk with police and other officials about the incident that killed Paul Heenan.

The meeting will have three panels: representatives from the District Attorney's Office, the Madison Police Department and community members. Chief Noble Wray is expected to attend, along with the lead investigator from the police department, Lt. Dan Olivas. Each group will give opening remarks, then panelists can ask questions of each other.

The community panel intends to talk about use of force, investigation policy, training regarding mental health and Wisconsin's culture of alcohol, and policies and procedures for putting an officer back on the street after a shooting.

The meeting runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Bethany Evangelical Free Church on Riverside Drive.

 

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