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Friday, December 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 26.0° F  Overcast
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Madison Police and Fire Commission will rule on complaint against Stephen Heimsness in Paul Heenan shooting
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The Madison Police and Fire Commission will attempt to issue a written decision on the complaint on Monday, Aug. 12.
Credit:Bennet Goldstein

Amelia Royko Maurer remains hopeful that the Madison Police and Fire Commission will move forward with her complaint against MPD officer Stephen Heimsness, who shot and killed her friend and roommate Paul Heenan in November 2012.

"I think we have standing," she says. "We want the public to see an analysis of the use of force policy.... It's worth sharing because this affects all of us."

On Wednesday, the commission held the second hearing on a complaint Royko Maurer and her husband, Nathan Royko Maurer, lodged June 22. The Royko Maurers claim Heimsness violated two Madison Police Department policies, both of which outline the circumstances in which officers may use deadly force against suspects.

Commission president George Kamperschroer said the board would enter into deliberations and attempt to issue a written decision on Monday, Aug. 12, on whether it will dismiss the Royko Maurers' complaint.

Although the Madison Police Department department exonerated Heimsness, the investigation unearthed incidents in which he was alleged to have violated department policies. Madison Police Chief Noble Wray -- who announced his retirement Tuesday -- filed a complaint June 21 with the commission for Heimsness' firing, and 10 days later, Heimsness resigned.

At the Wednesday hearing, Heimsness' attorneys, Andrew Schauer and James Palmer II of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, submitted five motions, requesting that the commission dismiss the Royko Maurers' complaint. Heimsness did not attend the hearing because of post-traumatic stress he says he suffered after the shooting.

Schauer questioned the commission's authority to act against Heimsness. He noted the commission only had the authority to discipline actual police officers.

"Because Heimsness' titles, powers, duties as a police officer have already been removed... the PFC can't proceed against him to issue this discipline," Schauer said. "In fact, they should not even refer to him as a police officer."

This reasoning perplexed the Royko Maurers' attorney, Michael Short, because Heimsness remains on the police department's payroll until Nov. 23, the date he officially resigns. As an employee of the police department, Short argued, Heimsness should be considered a police officer.

"Why would staff attorneys from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association be providing representation of him if he wasn't still a police officer?" Short asked.

Schauer also claimed the Royko Maurers lacked authority to issue a complaint because they were not Heenan's family or next of kin, witnesses to the shooting, or owners of the property where the shooting occurred.

"In this situation, unfortunately, the Maurers are friends of the affected person," Schauer said. "They have no other connection or nexus to this case."

Short responded that Heenan was the Royko Maurers' tenant, provided them with childcare, collaborated with Amelia in musical performances, and had pending contracts for future collaborations.

"Mr. Heenan died approximately 30 yards from their front step, and he was headed to their home the night this happened," Short said. "If they don't meet the definition of an aggrieved party, then who does meet the definition of an aggrieved party?"

On behalf of the Royko Maurers, Short requested Heimsness' immediate termination, expressing concern that he might attempt to find work as an officer in the future.

Schauer said Heimsness had no such wish.

Amelia Royko Maurer hopes a commission review of the case, should it move forward, will be fair and lead to permanent changes in the way investigations of law enforcement are conducted.

"We want it to start with this case because we can't determine what needs to change unless we do a failure analysis of the case that actually sparked this request for change," she says.

Chief Wray has previously stated he is open to making changes to the officer investigation process, but not for the Heenan case.

If the Police and Fire Commision dismisses the Royko Maurers' complaint, they may be able to file a civil suit, but Amelia says that is something she is not interested in pursuing.

"We don't believe justice should be served in a civil suit," she says. "It should take place within law enforcement."

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