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Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:27 pm

Stebben84 wrote:
snoqueen wrote:I would like to know the results of the toxicology report. On the face of it, the description of the victim's behavior doesn't fit with stupid-drunk.


I thought the same thing. Although I have seen some people so crazy drunk they didn't know what was going on.


Ditto, The going into the wrong house isn't so unbelievable, but the attacking two separate individuals (armed or not) seems a bit odd (unless he isn't actually the kind gentle soul who has been described by several posters at the time of his death).
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Bland » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:34 pm

Anyone else notice that the fellow calling someone else a pussy can't even bring themselves to type the word?
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Laboratory » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:59 pm

When I was in college, a nice, smart friend of my mine (who was also a large, very strong hockey player) got so drunk, he turned into a monster and ended up punching through a glass on a door in anger. He cut himself so deeply, the blood was spraying out of one of his fingers like a Monty Python sketch. Another friend (that was training to be an EMT) walked over to take a look at it. As I turned away, the non-drunk friend something like "You should get that looked at." In response to the comment, the drunk monster proceeded to beat him (I can't even describe how it sounded) before a group of us could pull him away. As we were debating calling 911 (for police and an ambulance) the monster broke down the locked door of the bathroom where his victim was cleaning himself up and proceeded to beat him again (the next morning, both of his eyes were swollen shut and the rest of his face was covered in bruises and abrasions). The next afternoon, the attacker could barely remember what why he got angry, what he had done or why he was "set off" by a comment from a friend trying to help him.

I guess my point is that alcohol can transform a mind so much, who knows what Paul Heenan was thinking (if he was thinking at all) once he got agitated that night. People have described him as a gentle and kind person, which I do not doubt, but I also doubt that the person that struggled with the homeowner and then the Police Officer was still Paul Heenan at that moment.

Trying understand and rationalize what each person did (especially Paul) during the moments leading up to his death is a pointless exercise, especially if a chemically-altered mind was involved.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:02 pm

I'm very much struck by the timeline of this tragedy. "Less than three minutes" transpired from the time officers were dispatched and Heenan was shot. Not a lot of time for new info to come to light, and given that he was told there was a burglary in progress, it makes perfect sense that Heimsness approached the scene with his gun drawn. So as Boyce already pointed out, there's really no plausible scenario wherein he could have holstered his gun and grabbed a less lethal means of subduing the suspect. (Also worth noting: that's some seriously fast response time. I have a difficult time reconciling the notion that Heimsness is unfit for his job given how quickly he rushed to protect and serve those on his beat. If it had been a burglary, it would almost assuredly have been thwarted by his actions.)

I'm curious: would people be as quick to condemn the shooter if he hadn't been a cop? Because the article makes clear that "[u]nder Wisconsin law... any person may use deadly force to respond to a genuine fear of deadly force from another person." What if the shooter had been a concerned neighbor who heard a commotion and went to investigate, firing their gun because one of the two people fighting in the yard at 3:00AM lunged at them?
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Maggie » Thu Dec 27, 2012 7:23 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:There are some interesting details in there which I don't recall reading earlier.


from the article wrote:O'Malley estimated Heenan was about 5 to 6 feet away from Heimsness when he fired


How could Paul Heenan be reaching for Heimsness' gun when he was 5 to 6 feet away from Heimsness. This does not make any sense.

from the article wrote: He said Heenan then went at Heimsness, and the two struggled, then briefly separated, and Heimsness fired.


Why did Heimsness fire when Heenan was backing off.


I am not surprised by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne's decision. This is what I expected. But I'm not buying it.

Heimsness is a very bad cop and should be fired. I hope that Heenan's family is successful in their civil wrongful death suit.
Last edited by Maggie on Thu Dec 27, 2012 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby bdog » Thu Dec 27, 2012 8:06 pm

Laboratory wrote:I guess my point is that alcohol can transform a mind so much, who knows what Paul Heenan was thinking (if he was thinking at all) once he got agitated that night.

That reminds me of this Madison murder in 1987. The guy's attorney argued that alcohol turned the guy into a raging lunatic. He was even allowed to get his client drunk in jail and videotape him to show how berserk he would get.

That defense did not work.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Francis Di Domizio » Fri Dec 28, 2012 9:29 am

Maggie wrote:
from the article wrote:O'Malley estimated Heenan was about 5 to 6 feet away from Heimsness when he fired


How could Paul Heenan be reaching for Heimsness' gun when he was 5 to 6 feet away from Heimsness. This does not make any sense.

This isn't rocket science. Heenan went for the gun, they struggled, Heimsness pushed him away and fired as soon as he had a clear shot.

Maggie wrote:
from the article wrote: He said Heenan then went at Heimsness, and the two struggled, then briefly separated, and Heimsness fired.


Why did Heimsness fire when Heenan was backing off.


Don't see anywhere it said Heenan was backing off, just that they separated long enough that Heimsness had time to aim and shoot.

Maggie wrote:I am not surprised by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne's decision. This is what I expected. But I'm not buying it.

Heimsness is a very bad cop and should be fired. I hope that Heenan's family is successful in their civil wrongful death suit.


Nice to see you are open minded, and not at all prone to prejudicial thinking.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby david cohen » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:26 am

My read of the eye witness account, coupled with the forensic evidence that the gun was 2-4 feet away when fired, is that Heenan was closing on the officer for a second time. The officer had his arm extended with the weapon, so this was in closer proximity than it appeared at first. So Heenan wasn't just standing 5-6 feet away. He was actively going after the officer. Also note that Jeff Scott Olsen, who is the top civil right lawyer in town, very carefully states that he is waiting on several statements from the eye witness and police before advising the family on whether to file a civil suit.

As many have echoed here, this is an ongoing tragedy for both the victim and his family as well as the officer and his family.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Gerth » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:39 am

My thought on all this is that the DA's findings won't change anyone's opinions. People who knew Paul will never believe what the witnesses say happened and the people who know Steve will never believe he did this without cause. Maggie will never trust cops and considering her her history I've seen from other posts, I don't blame her a bit.

I know Steve and I know without a doubt he is not the sort of person who goes looking to shoot people. I know this is a tragedy from every angle.

As a side note, Paul Heenan's blood alcohol level was .208, twice the legal limit. At 130 pounds, I'd be very drunk at that level, I can't imagine Paul weighed much more than that. I think I read somewhere that he had been dropped off by friends after going out that night. Has anyone spoken with those friends to see what Paul's state of mind was that night?
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby green union terrace chair » Fri Dec 28, 2012 3:13 pm

Gerth wrote:My thought on all this is that the DA's findings won't change anyone's opinions. People who knew Paul will never believe what the witnesses say happened and the people who know Steve will never believe he did this without cause. Maggie will never trust cops and considering her her history I've seen from other posts, I don't blame her a bit.

I know Steve and I know without a doubt he is not the sort of person who goes looking to shoot people. I know this is a tragedy from every angle.

A very reasonable analysis and I must agree.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Maggie » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:09 pm

david cohen wrote:My read of the eye witness account, coupled with the forensic evidence that the gun was 2-4 feet away when fired, is that Heenan was closing on the officer for a second time...


This is pure conjecture on your part.

At the point that Heimsness and Paul were separated, which was after a struggle between them, it had to be clear to Heimsness that Paul was unarmed. The guy didn't even have as much as a toothpick to use as a weapon. Hell, Heimsness could have run away from a totally drunk Paul. Instead, he decided to put three bullets in Paul.

Let me repeat to make this clear. There was a struggle in which Paul was unable to get Heimsness' gun. Then there was 5 to 6 feet between them. Heimsness had to know that Paul had no weapon. But he chooses to kill Paul anyhow. If Paul had any sort of a weapon then Heimsness would have been justified in killing Paul. But Paul HAD NO WEAPON! And he was unable to take Heimsness' gun. I mean, Heimsness could have just cold cocked him.

At the very least this is a terrible judgement call. When considered in the context of Heimsness' propensity to use violence and to exercise poor judgement in two previous incidents, I have to conclude that he sucks as a police officer.

Now what I am going to say next is pure conjecture on my part. Based on Heimsness' past record of losing his temper and reacting violently, I believe that Heimsness just lost his temper at Paul, blew his cool and blew this kid away. I don't believe for one second that Heimsness feared for his life. This was a cop with many years of experience. You're going to tell me he couldn't handle an out of control UNARMED drunk without killing him..

Of course, I have no way of proving this but I have not read one argument anywhere that has even come close to changing my mind.

It is clear that the defenders of Officer Heimsness are friends of his. I understand that they want to stick up for a friend. But I didn't know Paul and I don't know Heimsness. My opinions are based on logic and reasoned analysis of the facts.

I respect police officers. I understand that it is a difficult and dangerous job. But this does not give them license to kill unarmed people and justify it by saying they were scared.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby jonnygothispen » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:13 pm

If these are all the facts we have, then I agree with Maggie. Why not grab the pepper spray at this point?
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Crockett » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:20 pm

Gerth wrote:I know Steve and I know without a doubt he is not the sort of person who goes looking to shoot people. I know this is a tragedy from every angle.


Maybe, but he is the type of person to bash someone's head and skull with enough force and violence to prompt a 911 call from a scared observer. He also had the propensity to shoot at a car for little to no reason in a heavily populated area.

He may not 'go looking' for gun violence but he certainly seems to find it. Previous incidents make me question his judgement with regard to excessive force. Whereas Paul had zero (0) history of violence.

Its over, but I can't help wondering if that smoke I see means fire.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Stebben84 » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:30 pm

Maggie wrote:My opinions are based on logic and reasoned analysis of the facts.


No they're not.
Maggie wrote:Heimsness had to know that Paul had no weapon.


Why?

Maggie wrote:The guy didn't even have as much as a toothpick to use as a weapon.


Was this disclosed during the struggle.

Maggie wrote:I mean, Heimsness could have just cold cocked him.


Thanks armchair cop. When will we see you on the beat.

Maggie wrote:Of course, I have no way of proving this but I have not read one argument anywhere that has even come close to changing my mind.


So I'll come up with an absurd idea and since you can't prove me wrong, then, well, I'm probably right. I've got one. An alien slithered into the cops ass and took over his body, made him fire the gun, then slithered back out and took off on it's invisible space ship. Now you see, no one has proven this DIDN'T happened so I'm not changing my mind.
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Re: Officer won't face criminal liability in shooting death

Postby Crockett » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:33 pm

Maggie wrote:I respect police officers. I understand that it is a difficult and dangerous job. But this does not give them license to kill unarmed people and justify it by saying they were scared.


I always thought the I-thought-the-soda-can-was-a-gun excuse was bad enough. But to say a small, unarmed wasted guy tried to take your gun away from 5 ft is just pathetic. A simple step-to-the-side-then-foot-trip takes care of most people that drunk.

You'd think he would have had some training on simple defensive tactics against a guy who was probably moving the speed of molasses.

And those that say, 'oh, he had superhuman strength because he was wasted' don't understand the difference between booze and bath salts. This is not a guy who was about to chew off someone's face.
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