Madison Police Chief Noble Wray: Take Officer Stephen Heimsness Off The Streets
  • Petitioned Fabiola Hamdan

This petition was delivered to:

Madison Police and Fire Commission
Fabiola Hamdan
Madison Police and Fire Commission
Craig Yapp
Madison Police and Fire Commission
George R. Kamperschroer
Madison Police and Fire Commission
Michael J. Lawton
Madison Police and Fire Commission
Wesley N. Sparkman
Madison Police Chief
Noble Wray
Paul Soglin

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray: Take Officer Stephen Heimsness Off The Streets

    1. Amelia Royko Maurer
    2. Petition by

      Amelia Royko Maurer

      Madison, United States


When we asked our good friend Paulie Heenan to move in with us and our little daughter, we never expected that he would be killed by a Madison police officer. Paulie was your go-to guy for lending a helping hand or repairing broken stuff: your car, your computer, your heart. That's why we asked him to stay with us when he moved back to Madison after spending 8 years in New York.

After a night out scouting bands for his new job at a local recording studio, a friend dropped Paulie off near our house. But it was dark, Paulie had been drinking, and he was new to the neighborhood -- so he didn't realize that he'd mistakenly entered our neighbor's nearly identical unlocked home. The homeowner, Kevin O’Malley, recognized Paulie and started to help him get his bearings. Not knowing what was happening, his wife Megan called the police as a precaution while Kevin guided Paulie home. When the police arrived, the simple misunderstanding turned into a tragic killing.

The first officer to respond was Stephen Heimsness, who has a record of using excessive force stretching back to 2001. Paulie may not have known that Heimsness was an officer -- when he arrived on the scene, his police lights were off, he snuck up on the men from half a block away, didn’t verbally identify himself as a police officer, and immediately pointed his gun and began yelling at the men to get on the ground.  Kevin O'Malley said he thought it was another neighbor coming to assist or possibly just someone out walking their dog before he heard the officer's shouts and noticed the gun pointed in his direction.

Paulie and Heimsness scuffled for a moment before Paulie, realizing that Heimsness was an officer, stepped back with his hands raised according to O’Malley’s account -- and Heimsness shot him three times in the chest. Kevin repeatedly told Heimsness, "He's a neighbor!" but says that the officer did nothing to defuse the situation.

The Madison Police Department and Dane County District Attorney -- two groups with obvious conflicts of interest -- investigated the shooting and decided that Heimsness didn't do anything illegal by shooting an unarmed man.

But a huge gulf separates what's legal and what's right. Officer Heimsness had extensive training in using non-lethal tactics. Heimsness acknowledges that he had backup on the scene. That backup, Officer Troumbly, says she arrived with a Taser -- not a gun -- drawn seconds before Heimsness opened fire on Paulie. Instead of waiting for his backup, he chose to use deadly force against an innocent, unarmed, confused man.

This isn't just a tragedy: it's part of a dangerous pattern with Heimsness. In 2001, he was suspended from the force for shooting out a fleeing suspect’s tires against department policy. And in 2010, the city of Madison paid nearly $30,000 to a man who Heimsness allegedly beat and stomped into a bloody pulp. We don't trust someone with this record of poor judgment to patrol the streets of Madison.

Police most effectively keep neighborhoods safe when they have the trust of those they protect. Thanks to Heimsness' reckless actions, that trust has been seriously eroded. Megan O'Malley told one reporter, "I feel terrible I called the police. I wouldn't call them again."

If Heimsness’ actions are tolerated, it’s only a matter time before he goes from an anomaly in our police department to a precedent. Please join us in calling on Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, the Madison Police and Fire Commission, and Mayor Paul Soglin to do everything in their power to take Officer Stephen Heimsness off the streets and to review the Madison Police Department's use of force policy and training to ensure that no more people needlessly die at one of their officers' hands.

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 100,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • josephW grant LAWRENCE, KS
      • over 1 year ago

      Police must be trained to protect and defend. Removing former police officer Stephen Heimsness from the Madison, WI P.D. insures that the public will feel safer - provided the public remains observant and monitors the behavior of our "protectors."

    • Richard Bukowski DEL RIO, TX
      • over 1 year ago

      This is who needs to be in jail.

    • Kimberley Crowe AUBURN, GA
      • over 1 year ago

      Todays police officers more so than the few good ones is all out for that pat on the back and forget about procedures and protocols which are mandatory to follow for them as well as us. We have been harassed time and time again i wish they would just do their jobs and leave innocent and law abiding people out of their vendetta

    • Rod Eatherly BAY CITY, TX
      • over 1 year ago

      I've concluded from the report I've read that this police employee failed to use appropriate escalation of force, killed a man who would otherwise be alive had he exercised better judgment and because of that has absolutely no business serving the public in any official capacity. Had a civilian injudiciously used lethal force in a similar scenario s/he would certainly be convicted and sentenced to a very long prison term. Based on my understanding of this officer involved shooting, it is my firm belief that police employees like Heimsness are an embarrassment to law enforcement officers everywhere. When will LEOs understand that they must purge their ranks of such employees if they want the continued support and respect of the general public? For what it's worth, I firmly believe public servants charged with enforcing the law should be held to the highest of standards rather than the lowest. I also believe any time an officer claims that they "feared for their life" (which is apparently their magical and often used get-out-of-jail free card) to justify the use of lethal force, that such claims should be scrutinized every bit as rigorously as they are when a civilian makes such a claim. Police employees are bound by the law like everyone else, and they are certainly NOT above the law!

    • Lauren Parisi MADISON, WI
      • over 1 year ago

      Many don't understand why some people become officers. There are those who do it bc they genuinely want to protect, and there are those who are narcissistic and power hungry, and want control. Heimsness is one of those narcissists. He's not a good guy, never was. This should've been dealt with a long time ago, and psych evaluation needs to step up. A man like this has been forcing control on people since he was young. A personality like this should've been spotted, and never allowed in the police force. It's a danger to society, and gives great police officers a bad name. He also took the life of an innocent person who brought joy to others' lives, while this moron gets to roam the streets with a loaded weapon. He needs to be in jail, yesterday.


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