MADISON (WKOW)-- Friday afternoon Madison Police Chief Noble Wray announced the department is conducting three separate investigations regarding officer Stephen Heimsness. Heimsness is currently on administrative leave after shooting and killing an unarmed suspect during a November burglary call.
All three of the complaints that lead to these investigations came from within the police department itself. Even though Chief Wray says none of these incidents involved excessive force, friends and neighbors are still concerned. All three happened before the night Paul Heenan was shot and killed.
Of the three prior incidents involving officer Heimsness, Chief Wray says he was only aware of one before the night Heenan was shot and killed. At that time he says there wasn't enough information to take Heimsness off patrol, but now with two more incidents coming to his attention that thought has changed.
"The reasonable and prudent thing to do at this particular time is to place him on administrative leave," Chief Wray says during Friday afternoon's news conference.
It's a startling development for those close to Paul Heenan.
"I really can't fathom why an officer like Heimsness was allowed to patrol the streets armed," says Nathan Royko-Maurer, a friend of Paul Heenan.
Royko-Maurer says police should have done a better job looking into Heimsness's background. Taking him off patrol far sooner than they did.
"I certainly hope that it would result in some soul searching by the department to maybe say you know, we need to take care of this stuff in a more expeditious fashion," Royko-Maurer says.
Madison Alder Marsha Rummel says many people she represents already have trust issues with police. Many are afraid to call for help in an emergency. She says this recent information makes things much worse.
"I think that's going to cause a lot of alarm. Obviously they knew this was happening and they weren't telling. That's probably their job to do a fair job internally but at some point it's like, what else is going to come out?" Rummel asks.
Chief Wray wouldn't get into the details of these three incidents or a timeline of when they happened, only that they did not involve excessive force, but he still calls them troubling.
Two of the investigations are pretty far along according to Chief Wray. The third one is still in the early stages.
They were all put on hold during the investigation for the Heenan case. No word yet on when results from those investigations will be released.
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