CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Criticism from a Hamilton County assistant prosecutor about the lead police investigator on the Ray Tensing murder case is "offensive and dangerous," the police union president said Tuesday.
Sgt. Dan Hils also questions the timing of the comments, which came during the closing arguments at the retrial Monday.
Prosecutors, he notes, didn't raise concerns about Sgt. Shannon Heine during Tensing's first trial last year.
"I am very disappointed that the Prosecutor's office has resorted to attacking the character of the CPD Homicide Unit and Sergeant Shannon Heine," Hils wrote on Facebook early Tuesday.
"I have managed to do what very few public officials have done. I have kept my mouth shut through the criminal trials of Ray Tensing. It has been difficult, but there are several reasons why I have held my tongue. Ray Tensing is not a member of my lodge.
"Members of CPD were directly involved in the investigation and I wanted to respect the jury and trial process. Members of my lodge have many different opinions of the case. I have a great respect and admiration for Joe Deters and the other prosecutors in his office.
"But," Hils wrote, "statements made in the State's closing arguments was 'a bridge too far.'"
Heine was a homicide investigator back in July 2015 when she interviewed Tensing a few days after the former University of Cincinnati police officer shot and killed Samuel DuBose during a traffic stop.
She testified as a witness for the prosecution in both trials.
But it was her surprising testimony on cross examination during the retrial is what has drawn the ire of the prosecutor's office - and compelled Hils to step up in her defense.
Heine testified on June 9 that Tensing's actions "may be determined to be justified."
She also said there wasn't anything in Tensing's statement that was inconsistent with what she knew about the case.
In closing arguments Monday, Assistant County Prosecutor Seth Tieger told jurors Heine is inexperienced.
He said she gave Tensing "easy question after easy question" with the intent of never charging him with a crime when she interviewed Tensing a few days after he fatally shot Samuel DuBose in 2015.
"When she said, 'It's just a formality,'" Tieger said, "what she meant was, 'Don't worry, you're going to get what you want.'"
He suggested Heine showed her fellow officer special treatment.
"Was this the good ol' boy network kicking in?" Tieger asked. "Is this how they would have treated anybody else who wasn't an officer?"
Tieger's remarks came after Tensing's attorney, Stew Mathews, evoked Heine's testimony at the end of his closing argument, saying she "hit the nail on the head."
Hils said Tieger's comments are way out of line and could feed into anti-police rhetoric.
"Asking if this is the 'good 'ol boy network kicking in' as to suggest Sgt. Heine and the Homicide Unit would cover for a police officer rather than to seek the truth was an offensive and dangerous statement," Hils wrote.
"Sgt. Heine has been a part of the prosecution of police officers with her years in the Internal Affairs Unit. Her integrity is a proven fact. CPD Homicide Unit is the most thorough and professional investigative unit anywhere. The Prosecutor's statement feeds into radicals who wish other people to believe the system is unfair and unjust.
"Prosecutor's office personnel were with our Homicide personnel during the interviews they are criticizing. Telling Ray Tensing the interview was just a formality is how an interviewer would put the subject of the interview at ease in what was a totally voluntary statement.
"Personal Crimes detectives do similar things when interviewing child sex offenders! Getting someone to "lawyer up" is not the goal of an interviewer.
"Why wasn't Sgt. Heine attacked in the first trial? She wasn't asked the same question as she was in this trial. Sgt. Heine answered the question honestly and the Prosecutor's office didn't like her answer, so they attacked her experience and her integrity.
"The Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office and the Cincinnati Police Homicide Unit must have a good working relationship for the good of the citizens of our community," Hils wrote in closing.
"I hope that Mr. Tieger realizes the recklessness of his suggestions about the integrity of CPD Homicide and the work they did on this difficult case. I pray that his statements do not inflame more hostility against police. That will put our officers at greater risk, who will already be dealing with an unpredictable community reaction to the outcome."
This type of criticism from the prosecutor's office about one of their own witnesses and a lead police investigator is"virtually unprecedented," said FOX19 NOW Legal Analyst Mike Allen, the former Hamilton County prosecutor.
"(Tieger) had to do it. He had to do it. I am not faulting Seth Tieger. He's in this case to win," Allen said.
"She said what she said and he had to blunt it. I don't blame him a bit. However, for a prosecutor to throw a police investigator who is his own witness under the bus in closing argument is extremely rare and probably unprecedented.
"We all knew that the minute those words left Sgt. Heine's mouth that they would be prominently featured in Tensing's closing argument: 'This may have been a justified homicide.'"
"In my mind," Allen said, "that's more than reasonable doubt, no matter how far you throw her under the bus. Apparently the Prosecutor with a capital P forgot to check with his witnesses as to what their opinion of the case was."