Officer Stephen Heimsness served charges - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Officer Stephen Heimsness served charges


MADISON (WKOW) -- Madison police officer Stephen Heimsness may not have a job for long.

Heimsness' attorney says he received charges against his client Monday afternoon. Chief Noble Wray wants Heimsness fired for violating department rules, and claims he used defamatory language and a squad-car based computer messaging system inappropriately.

The charges cite incidents that happened in the months before the shooting of unarmed Paul Heenan, in November 2012, when Heimsness said Heenan went for his gun.

Heimsness was cleared by police investigators and the Dane County District Attorney's Office in that case. Since then the Madison Police Department has been looking into Heimsness' history on the job.

Wray's complaint says on the night of Heenan's shooting, about two hours before dispatchers called Heimsness to the scene, Heimsness sent messages to another Madison police officer: "I'm the right cop for the wrong job" and "no witnesses, no problem." 

Heimsness' messages are unrelated to the shooting.  

Still, Heenan's father, John Heenan, said before his son's shooting, "[police officials] knew he was a loose cannon."

WKOW spoke with Heimsness' attorney, but he declined to comment on the case until a later date.

The attorney for Madison's Police and Fire Commission (PFC) says he isn't sure if the future outcome of the trial could affect the any of the Heimsness' past incidents.

"You're asking if the PFC decision in these charges might call into question, might impact the decision about not prosecuting him in the shooting? I simply don't know," attorney Scott Herrick said. Herrick will advise the PFC during Heimsness' trial.

A police official says squad-car messages will now be audited. However, Herrick says he doubts the Heimsness case will have broad effects on police communications.

"Maybe when the case is over people in my position can reflect on what it might mean to the police department," Herrick said. "I suspect the people in the police department are reflecting on that now."

Herrick predicts the first hearing will happen in early July.

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