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Man fatally shot by Madison, Wis., police officer was unarmed, chief says

Madison, Wis. Police Chief Noble Wray
WISC-TV
(CBS) MADISON, Wis. - The Madison police chief says a man killed by a police officer last Friday was reaching toward the officer's gun when he was shot, but that the man was unarmed.

Chief Noble Wray also confirmed Monday that the man was not a burglar, but a neighbor who reportedly had been drinking before he mistakenly entered the wrong house, CBS affiliate WISC-TV reported.

Wray said 30-year-old Paul Heenan entered the house using a key the homeowners kept in their door.

According to CBS Minnesota, Heenan was the guitarist in the popular Minneapolis-based band, Solid Gold.

The chief said the officer was responding to a 911 call about a possible burglary when he arrived to find Heenan struggling with the homeowner outside. Wray said Heenan advanced toward the officer, grabbed the officer's hand with his own hand, and reached toward the officer's gun with his other hand, according to WISC-TV.

Wray said that although Heenan wasn't armed the officer believed his life was in danger during the struggle and fired three rounds, killing Heenan.

"We did respond to a complaint of a burglary in progress, but that was not what the incident turned out to be," Wray said. "Although this case was called in as a burglary in progress, it turns out that Mr. Heenan was not a burglar but someone who had recently moved into the neighborhood and had entered the wrong address."

The homeowner began walking Heenan over to his home, and the officer saw the two men struggling outside, according to police.

"It was a very dark street, but as (the officer) walked up, he could see two men grappling and struggling. Based on the description of the husband provided by dispatch, he believed he was seeing the homeowner struggling with a possible burglar," Wray said.

Wray said that based on what he knows so far from the investigation, he believes that Heenan's actions produced a deadly force situation, WISC-TV reported.

"Anytime you get a citizen in close proximity to a police officer and their weapon is there and becomes part of the issue and there's an aggressive move, I think it does produce a deadly force situation," Wray said.

Wray said the investigation is not yet complete.


  • Barry Leibowitz

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