Chief Noble Wray said Monday that the man killed by a Madison police officer early Friday had grabbed the arm of the officer with one hand and was reaching toward his gun with the other when he was shot.
At a news conference Monday, Wray also confirmed that Paul Heenan, 30, was not a burglar, but a neighbor who reportedly had been drinking before he mistakenly entered a house two doors from his own using a key that the homeowners had kept in their door.
Heenan was not armed, Wray said, adding that though he had a pocket knife, it did not play a role in the incident.
"This is a case where many of us are struggling," Wray said, acknowledging Heenan's family, neighbors and the community, as well as his department.
He said Officer Stephen Heimsness was responding to a 911 call reporting a possible burglary in the 500 block of South Baldwin Street shortly before 3 a.m. when he arrived to find Heenan struggling with the homeowner, Kevin O'Malley, outside.
Heimsness drew his gun and ordered both men to get down on the ground. O'Malley moved away and put his hands in the air, Wray said, but Heenan quickly advanced toward Heimsness, swore at him, grabbed the officer's hand with one hand and reached toward his gun with the other.
"Officer Heimsness believed his life was in danger and fired three rounds," Wray said.
Wray and Madison police training officer Kimba Tieu said the use of deadly force under such circumstances is consistent with department policy and training.
"Talking with the investigators and what I know about the case, the struggle that took place between Officer Heimsness and Mr. Heenan, I think did produce a deadly force situation," Wray said. "Anytime you get a citizen in close proximity to a police officer and their weapon is there and the weapon becomes part of the issue in that close proximity and it's an aggressive move, I think it does produce a deadly force situation."
Tieu said officers are trained to go to a less-lethal option, such as a Taser, only after it is clear more force is not required.
O'Malley declined to speak with a reporter Monday. Neighbors also declined to comment on the incident, citing respect for the O'Malley family.
John Heenan of Oregon, Paul's father, also declined to comment on Monday.
An investigation by the department is continuing and is being monitored by the Dane County Sheriff's Office, Wray said.
The Dane County District Attorney's Office also will review the case.
Wray said O'Malley's wife, Megan, called 911 and reported that she could hear someone inside her house. She said that the couple's four children were in the home and that her husband had gone to investigate.
Wray said O'Malley recognized Heenan as his neighbor and had begun to walk Heenan to his residence when Heenan began to struggle with O'Malley. That's when Heimsness arrived.
"It was a very dark street, but as he walked up, he could see two men grappling and struggling," Wray said. "Based on the description of the husband provided by dispatch, he believed he was seeing the homeowner struggling with a possible burglar."
Wray said Heimsness "began to back up," but Heenan "swore at the officer and quickly closed the distance of approximately 15 to 20 feet."
Heimsness said Heenan "grabbed him, latching onto his left hand with one hand while using the other to reach (his) gun," Wray said.
Wray said O'Malley and Officer Stacy Troumbly, who arrived at the scene shortly after Heimsness, confirmed a physical confrontation between Heimsness and Heenan.
"All of this happened very fast," Wray said, adding it was just "a matter of seconds" from when Heimsness ordered Heenan to get on the ground to when he fired.
Heenan, a musician described by friends as nonviolent, moved onto the block Nov. 1. The house where he was living and the O'Malley family's house share some similar features.
Though Heenan had a slight build, Tieu said, that alone would not lead an officer to conclude he did not pose a threat.
Heimsness, a 15-year veteran of the department, received a 15-day suspension in June 2001 for using excessive force after he shot the tires of a fleeing car in the Lake Street parking ramp. An internal affairs report said Heimsness "did not employ judgment and tactical decision-making consistent with department training and standards."
In 2009, the city paid $27,000 to settle an excessive use of force claim stemming from a 2006 incident involving Heimsness, the weekly Isthmus reported. In that case, a police department investigation found that the actions of Heimsness and other officers — including kicks and knee strikes to subdue a man who had smashed a glass into another man's face at State Street Brats and was resisting arrest and attempting to flee — "for the most part ... were reasonable and necessary," and the complaint was found to be not sustained.
In both of those cases, the District Attorney's Office found Heimsness did not break any laws.