Cincinnati police officers have taken the extraordinary step of issuing a vote of no confidence in the county prosecutor and another that directed their union leader to withdraw from a group working to refresh the city's Collaborative Agreement.
Both votes, taken late Monday, stem from anger at how Cincinnati Police Sgt. Shannon Heine was treated in the wake of her testimony in the trial of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. She said under oath that she believed his actions were justified.
A jury couldn't come to a unanimous agreement last week on murder or voluntary murder charges brought against Tensing in the fatal shooting of Sam DuBose during a traffic stop, resulting in a mistrial.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said his office was "blindsided" by Heine's testimony and that it changed the direction of the prosecution's case.
An internal affairs report released by the police department Friday found Heine did not deceive prosecutors, but the Citizen Complaint Authority also has received a complaint against Heine. It was filed by Al Gerhardstein, who represents the DuBose family, on behalf of the Black United Front.
“I’m especially disturbed by Mr. Gerhardstein’s baseless accusations that Sgt. Heine conspired with the defense. That’s a huge accusation. There’s no evidence of it whatsoever, it’s just they did not like her opinion in that case,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 69 President Dan Hils said.
Deters said Tuesday he remains committed to doing the best job as prosecutor he can and that "I have full confidence in the Cincinnati Police Department.”
The vote of no confidence is believed to be the first of its kind and was shocking because Deters has long enjoyed support from the law enforcement community for his tough-on-crime stances.
The Tensing case was the first he lost while in the top job at the prosecutor's office, but he told the Enquirer he stood by his decision, despite criticism that he over-charged Tensing.
The Collaborative Agreement refresh was championed by Mayor John Cranley to revisit the police-community agreement that is seen as a national model. Cranley brought back monitor Saul Green for an eight-month look at the agreement with the support of original signers including community activist Iris Roley, Gerhardstein and the police department.
Understand that the issue with Sgt. Heine's testimony is a smokescreen, the issue is that Deters dared to ever indict Tensing. The police union is making it very clear that the collaborative agreement between the police, the City Council, the Mayor, and the black community is dead unless Deters is fired, and that's something Mayor Cranley can't afford to let crumble as he faces re-election.
That puts Cincinnati in a very bad place. If the police union bails from the Collaborative Agreement, Cranley is toast and he knows it.
How long Deters survives as County Prosecutor is anyone's guess if the FOP has turned on him.