As reported bynj.com, a judge ordered Billy Heisler to pay nearly $6 million to Joshua Hahn, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Officer he shot during an off-duty encounter outside a Hamilton pizzeria in 2007. The civil judgment was awarded after Hahn took the witness stand and described how his attempts to intervene in a domestic dispute between Heisler and his sister culminated in a career-ending injury to the 34-year old officer. The 32-year old Heisler, who is awaiting sentencing for attempted murder in Hahn’s shooting, had not responded to Hahn’s lawsuit.
Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez said the shooting, and Heisler’s immediate flight from the scene, showed “particularly callous and evil conduct.” He awarded Hahn $963,871 in lost wages, $1.5 million in pain and suffering, $2.5 million in punitive damages and $1 million for losses incurred by his wife, who was also a plaintiff in the suit. Just how much of the money Hahn will recoup remains to be seen.
According to an attorney who represented Heisler after the shooting, Heisler has been living off funds from a settlement from a lawsuit he filed after being severely injured in an explosion when he was 11.
Under oath, Hahn testified that he suffered two punctured lungs and a shattered vertebra from the single gunshot to the chest. His injuries forced him to retire on permanent disability. After court, Hahn spoke very little about the civil case. He said he prefers to keep quiet until Heisler is sentenced next month.
“The criminal case has always been my main concern,” Hahn said. “I’m confident he will be sentenced appropriately.” Two weeks ago, a jury convicted Heisler of attempted murder and weapons offenses. Jurors rejected a defense argument that the gun went off accidentally during a struggle between the two men.