Janesville36.4°

Cop kills Clinton man

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Ann Marie Ames
Mike DuPre'
December 19, 2007
— A police officer shot and killed a rural Clinton man Tuesday night in a confrontation that apparently escalated from a domestic disturbance.

Timothy E. Harrington, 36, of 11447 Minkey Road, was killed, according to the Rock County Sheriff's Department.


Police say Harrington shot his mother-in-law, Marilyn Smith, 58, of 207 Mill St., Clinton, during the incident, which occurred about 6:50 p.m. at her home. Smith was taken by helicopter to St. Anthony's Hospital in Rockford, Ill. A hospital spokeswoman said Wednesday afternoon that Smith was in critical condition.


The officers involved were Clinton officer Kim Rau and Rock County Sheriff’s Deputy Curt Streuly, said a source close to the investigation, who declined to be named because the case still is being investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigations.


The officers were not injured. Who shot Harrington was still being investigated this morning.


Unknown was how many shots were fired.


At least two children were in the home at the time of the shooting, the source said.


Rock County Sheriff Bob Spoden scheduled a press conference for 1 p.m. today to give details.


As soon as it was determined that the incident was an officer-involved shooting, sheriff’s deputies taped off the house at 207 Mill St. as a crime scene, Spoden said, and he called the Division of Criminal Investigations to investigate.


"Very preliminary information indicates that the officers’ actions to protect members of the
family were appropriate," Spoden said in a press release.


Spoden said he asked Dane County Sheriff Dan Mahoney to coordinate the internal investigation into the shooting. Such an investigation is routine in such shootings, Spoden said.


It is also is routine for police in small municipalities to request backup from the sheriff’s department when called to a potentially violent domestic disturbance, the sheriff said.


August standoff

Harrington was involved in a two-hour standoff with police at his home on Minkey Road on Aug. 21.


Officers were called to the home for a domestic disturbance but learned that Harrington had fled.


A Clinton officer located and attempted to stop Harrington in Clinton, but he did not comply. A chase ensued back to Harrington's home, where he drove his vehicle into a storage garage.


Harrington barricaded himself in the garage with a firearm and refused to comply with officers request to exit. He eventually gave himself up.


On Aug. 24, Timothy Harrington was charged with domestic abuse of a child, two counts of battery, fleeing an officer, failure to comply and dangerous use of a weapon in connection with the standoff.


According to court documents from the Aug. 21 incident, Michelle Harrington told officers she had been in an argument with her husband, Timothy, about registering their children for school.


Timothy put his hands around Michelle’s neck but did not squeeze, she said. Michelle threatened to call police, and Timothy slapped her, she said.


Timothy threatened her before leaving the house.


During the standoff later at the storage garage, Timothy refused to come out and told officers that he wanted to die. He threatened to kill officers.


He told officers over the phone he had a 9 mm pistol and an unloaded shotgun.


Eventually officers talked him out of the building after he had accidentally discharged one of the weapons.


Michelle told police there was an incident about three weeks before the Aug. 21 standoff when she objected to Timothy bringing two men into their home. He began hitting her, and their 14-year-old daughter stood between the two and yelled at Timothy to stop. He hit the girl in the face, according to the criminal complaint.


On Aug. 28, Michelle filed for a temporary restraining order against Timothy and filed for divorce.


According to the divorce petition, the Harringtons have four children—a 14-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old boy.


The scene in Clinton

Neighbors said they didn’t hear a thing Tuesday night.


They didn’t know anyone was shot until they saw 20 police cars in the street.


John Coleman works at the Clinton Kitchen, 239 Allen St. The restaurant’s back door is straight across the lot from the white, one-story home at 207 Mill.


No one working at the restaurant heard shots Tuesday night, but an employee noticed the ruckus while taking out the trash, Coleman said.


From the alley Tuesday night, the restaurant staff watched a police officer standing at the front door of the house. Two young girls ran from the house, Coleman said. The officer waved at the girls to stay back and seemed to be listening at the door, Coleman said.


When another officer arrived, they both entered the home, he said.


At 8 p.m., an ambulance idled in the nearby village hall parking lot. A police officer carried a stuffed Snoopy toy to a small group huddled in the ambulance.


Police cars and sport utility vehicles with lights flashing were parked up and down Mill and Cross streets. The front yard and the street in front of 207 Mill were blocked off with police tape. A Christmas tree with no lights stood in the home’s front window.


The Harringtons moved into 207 Mill St. two or three weeks ago, said Steve Espinoza, 211 Mill. He has shoveled the family’s sidewalk but never met them, he said.


Espinoza said his brother had seen a Clinton police car in front of the house at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday. Around 5:30, they saw a sheriff’s squad car and later an ambulance, he said.


Talk of the town

This morning, the shooting was all the talk for regulars at the Clinton Kitchen.


“It’s very much the talk of the town,” owner Connie Farrell said while reading the morning newspaper over a cup of coffee.


With details about the shooting lacking, customers were left to speculate.


Farrell heard lots of sirens and a helicopter fly overhead while at home Tuesday night.


“We just were curious,” she said.


The only information people had was from television reports and hearsay, but many of the stories were “pretty inaccurate,” Farrell said. Many customers were eagerly awaiting more information to be released at the 1 p.m. news conference


Nick Nielson heard of the shooting on the news Tuesday night and met this morning with his friends at the diner like he does everyday.


“All we know is what was on TV. It’s all roped off,” he said of the crime scene.


Shortly after the diner opened at 5 a.m., an officer came in to buy two dozen doughnuts and other food for authorities who had been working over night, Farrell said.


Reporters Marcia Nelesen, Jim Leute and Gina Duwe contributed to this story.
Read the press release from the sheriff's department regarding the officer involved shooting in Clinton [PDF]

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