Officers cleared in death
Smith caught a shotgun blast in the back of a shoulder as she protected two of her four grandchildren from their father, Timothy E. Harrington. He already had fired once despite the presence of two police officers in the home.
“I think it was suicide by police officer,” Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary said Wednesday.
O’Leary talked about details of the case when he announced that an independent state investigation had cleared the two officers—Kimberly Rau of the Clinton Police Department and Deputy Curtis Streuly of the Rock County Sheriff’s Department—of any wrongdoing in their fatal shooting of Harrington on Dec. 18.
O’Leary had asked the state Division of Criminal Investigation to investigate the shooting as an independent agency. He announced the investigation’s results Wednesday evening.
“After reviewing this information, it is abundantly clear that (the officers) acted lawfully and in accordance to their duty as sworn law enforcement officers and were protecting not only their lives but the lives of the family members located at that residence who were targets of Harrington’s threatening behavior,” O’Leary said.
Besides Smith and her two grandchildren, Harrington’s estranged wife, Michelle, was at home when he barged in the back door armed with a shotgun.
Smith, 58, was hospitalized for an extended period in Rockford, Ill.
It was feared that she would have to have her arm amputated, O’Leary said. But he added that he had heard that amputation was not necessary and that Smith was recovering, albeit with the loss of some mobility in her arm.
Harrington, 36, of 11447 Minkey Road, Clinton, had been in a downward spiral for months.
The Harringtons were getting divorced, and the couple had financial problems.
In August, Harrington, armed with a pistol and a shotgun, was involved in a two-hour standoff with police. He was charged with domestic abuse of a child, two counts of battery, fleeing an officer, failure to comply with officers’ orders and dangerous use of a weapon.
O’Leary commended the officers for preventing more deaths Dec. 18, and he praised Smith for risking her life to protect her grandchildren.
O’Leary also extended his condolences to the family as did Sheriff Bob Spoden.
“Our heartfelt sympathy goes to the family, which lost a loved one and had another seriously injured,” the sheriff said.
“But we’re proud of the actions of our officers, which probably saved the family and community from an even greater tragedy,” Spoden said.
Streuly, who has been on leave, will return to active duty next week, Spoden said.
He still is awaiting results of a separate internal investigation by the Dane County Sheriff’s Department, but Spoden said he doesn’t anticipate it to report any negative findings.
“We’ve had some preliminary discussion with them, and there wasn’t anything they were concerned about. It all was well within (departmental) policy,” Spoden said.
Rau, a part-time Clinton officer, will return to work as soon as she needed, Clinton Police Chief Jim Korth said this morning.
“I think their actions were very heroic. I think they definitely saved them (family members),” Korth said. “On behalf of our department, I wish to extend our sympathies to the family.”