— More than three years after watching his son die from gunshots fired during a fight with a deputy in a Kasota parking lot, Mark Heilman has settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Le Sueur County.
Heilman wanted Todd Waldron, a sheriff’s detective who was in plain clothes when he shot 24-year-old Tyler Heilman on July 20, 2009, to face criminal charges. After a grand jury decided Waldron shouldn’t be charged, Mark Heilman filed the lawsuit in federal court claiming Waldron assaulted his son and used unreasonable deadly force. The suit also claimed the county was partially responsible due to a lack of training and because Waldron was an employee.
After a settlement conference that lasted more than seven hours, the two sides reached an agreement that will pay $750,000 to Heilman’s family.
That settlement was in exchange for the Heilman family dismissing all claims against the county and Waldron, who weren’t required to admit any liability in the shooting. Because Tyler Heilman had a young son who will benefit from the settlement, it has to be approved by federal Judge John Tunheim before it is final.
James Behrenbrinker, Mark Heilman’s attorney, said he expects Tunheim to approve the settlement because it’s fair and was agreed to after negotiations by Heilman’s family, Waldron and the county.
“A young man was brutally killed,” Behrenbrinker said. “A mother and father lost their son and a young boy lost his dad. While it seems like a lot of money, when it’s put into perspective, it’s really not because it’s not going to bring back the life that was lost.”
The settlement will be paid by the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust, an organization that provides property, casualty and workers’ compensation coverage to counties and other public entities that are members. The county was represented by Jason Hiveley of Iverson Ruevers, a Bloomington law firm that works with the trust.