Testimony from investigator 'a gift from heaven' for Tensing

Updated: Jun. 12, 2017 at 9:09 AM EDT
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Cincinnati Police Sgt. Shannon Heine (FOX19 NOW)
Cincinnati Police Sgt. Shannon Heine (FOX19 NOW)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Surprise testimony Friday from a prosecution witness is "a gift from heaven" for Ray Tensing's defense, said FOX19 NOW legal analyst Mike Allen.

Jurors watched a video of Cincinnati police investigators interviewing Tensing two days after the former University of Cincinnati police officer fatally shot Samuel DuBose during a 2015 traffic stop.

He told them he believed DuBose, "was actively trying to kill me."

During cross examination, Tensing's attorney, Stew Mathews, asked one of the investigators who interviewed Tensing, Sgt. Shannon Heine, if it's the role of police to recommend whether criminal charges should be filed.

She responded that in police-involved shootings, prosecutors determine the legality of the actions taken by the officer.

"Do you give some input in that?" Mathews asked her.

"Yes, sir," Sgt. Heine said.

"Did you do that in this case?"

"Not too much," she answered.

"Well, what does not too much mean?"

One of the prosecutors objected, but Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz overruled, permitting Sgt. Heine to answer.

In a slightly trembling voice, Sgt. Heine said: "Based on my time and training in internal investigations, I thought I was looking at an officer-involved shooting where his actions may be determined to be justified based on the events surrounding the actual shooting."

Sgt. Heine also testified she didn't find anything in Tensing's statement to her that was inconsistent with what she knew about the case.

FOX19 NOW legal analyst Mike Allen described her testimony as "a gift from heaven" for Tensing's defense.

Her statements could be crucial when jurors decide whether or not to convict Tensing of murder or voluntary manslaughter, according to another FOX19 NOW legal analyst, Mark Krumbein.

"From what she said, the jurors could consider that perhaps reasonable doubt. That's all the defense needs, reasonable doubt. They could quote her and that could be all she wrote," Krumbein said.

Jurors also heard testimony Friday from a civilian eyewitness who saw the July 19, 2015 traffic stop that ended in DuBose's death.

Alicia Napier insisted in her testimony DuBose's car did not move before Tensing's gun fired.

Mathews suggested during cross examination that Napier was distracted by her child in the backseat and received some details in her testimony from video she watched later.

Tensing, 27, is expected to take the stand to defend himself.

He also testified during the first trial last year.

It ended in a deadlocked jury and mistrial.

Tensing faces charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter.

Complete coverage: Ray Tensing retrial

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