CINCINNATI – Sam DuBose’s family is demanding that the Cincinnati police chief investigate the officer who testified that Ray Tensing’s shooting of DuBose could be justified.
In a complaint to Chief Eliot Isaac, attorney Al Gerhardstein said Sgt. Shannon Heine’s testimony “undermined the prosecution's case,” suggesting that Heine prevented the jury from convicting Tensing and contributed to a second hung jury.
"The conduct of Sgt. Heine opened the Cincinnati Police Department to the valid criticism that she was covering up for Tensing and not investigating the killing of Sam DuBose as she would other homicides that were not committed by police officers,” Gerhardstein said. “This severely undermines the public trust in the CPD. A thorough investigation is needed."
WATCH Heine's testimony in the video player above.
Isaac responded briefly to a question about Heine during a Friday news conference.
“I am concerned about a number of things that occurred during the trial, not only Sgt. Heine’s testimony, but also some of the comments made during the closing statement," Isaac said. "The matter is under review, and I will have a little bit more later regarding that.”
WATCH Isaac's response below:
Gerhardstein's complaint specifically asked Isaac:
- Did Heine withhold her testimony from the prosecutor and surprise the state at trial?
- Was her testimony a breach of her duty as part of the prosecution team?
- Did Heine report to the prosecutor any conversations she had with defense counsel in which this opinion was voiced and the plan was made to elicit the opinion at trial?
- Is the opinion expressed by Heine part of the homicide investigation file? If not was it appropriate to offer a private opinion that she had not documented in the file?
- Was Heine offering her opinion as a personal matter or as lead investigator?
- Should Heine be disciplined?
"The DuBose family and the public deserve to know the answers to these questions and whether there will be consequences," Gerhardstein said.
Isaac dismissed a reporter who asked if the “police department may have been lobbying for Tensing to not get convicted.”
“That’s a bold statement, to say the entire police department,” Isaac said. “We’re talking about the comments of one officer.”
Gerhardstein filed his complaint on the day that Judge Leslie Ghiz declared a mistrial in Tensing's second trial. The former University of Cincinnati officer. was facing murder and voluntary manslaughter charges for shooting and killing DuBose during a traffic stop on July 19, 2015.
Heine took the stand for the prosecution but ended up supporting the defense's case.
Heine, a homicide detective at the time, was one of two investigators who conducted a formal Cincinnati police interview of Tensing two days after the shooting. The prosecution called Heine to testify about the interview in the first trial last November and again two weeks ago.
This time, when defense attorney Stew Mathews cross-examined Heine, he asked her opinion in the case. That’s when Heine dropped a bombshell.
"Based on my time and training with internal investigations, I thought I was looking at an officer-involved-shooting where its actions may be determined to be justified based on the events surrounding the actual shooting," Heine testified.
Ten days later, Mathews reminded the jury of Heine’s testimony to bolster his closing argument.
"I would suggest to you that Shannon Heine, who is as close to the investigation in this matter and knows as much about this case as anybody, hit the nail on the head,” Mathews said in wrapping up his case.
Assistant prosecutor Seth Tieger then attacked Heine and her testimony in his closing argument, even suggesting she was part of a “good old boy network” covering up for a fellow officer.
Tieger said she had “little experience” and she was handling her first major case. He pulled no punches when he cited some friendly conversation between the detectives and Tensing and asked why they weren’t “savage” in their questioning.
“She said, ‘Nice to meet you ... I’m glad we’re hear to talk ... Sorry for the circumstances,’” Tieger said. “’It’s just a formality. Don’t worry about it.’”
“That’s not how you would treat a regular murder suspect ... [saying] ‘Sorry you just killed somebody,'” Tieger said.
The next day, FOP president Dan Hils condemned Tieger and defended Heine. Hils suggested Tieger’s remarks could incite violence against Heine or other officers.
Hils also said Tieger had created a rift between police and the prosecutor's office.
For complete trial coverage, visit wcpo.com/TensingTrial.