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Man who shot deputy must pay $5.9m

TRENTON, N.J. - An off-duty New Jersey county sheriff’s officer who was shot and seriously wounded when he tried to intervene in a domestic dispute has won a $5.9 million civil judgment against the gunman.

A judge recently awarded the money to Joshua Hahn and his wife after Billy Heisler - who was convicted last month on attempted murder and weapons charges - failed to respond to the suit.

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The 34-year-old Mercer County sheriff’s officer suffered two punctured lungs and a shattered vertebra when he tried to break up a fight between Heisler and his sister at a Hamilton Township pizzeria in July 2007. Hahn eventually had to retire from his law enforcement job on permanent disability.

Hahn was awarded $963,871 in lost wages, $1.5 million for pain and suffering, and $2.5 million in punitive damages. Hahn’s wife was awarded $1 million.

Heisler, 32, of Trenton was convicted of shooting the off-duty officer in the chest.

Prosecutors said he fired at Hahn at close range with intent. Defense lawyers said Heisler was defending himself by pistol-whipping Hahn when the gun went off accidentally.

Heisler will be sentenced March 16. He faces up to life in prison because his criminal record makes him eligible for an extended sentence.

At the time of the shooting, Heisler had been out of prison for three months after serving a four-year sentence for crimes that included assaulting a police officer, unlawful possession of a firearm, and evading arrest.

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