New developments in the death of Memphis police officer Sonya Henderson.
The Memphis police investigation file shows Henderson’s death was investigated only as a suicide. Now a prominent law firm is preparing to file a motion to unseal the TBI’s report into her death.
Officer Henderson was found dead in her Cordova home from a point blank gunshot to the chest in April 2014.
Henderson’s family claims she did not commit suicide but was murdered. They also claim MPD and TBI overlooked important evidence to avoid prosecuting a higher ranking officer.
The family says they will never have closure about Officer Henderson’s death until they have access to the two investigations conducted by law enforcement.
Our open records requests produced this report of the MPD investigation. Today we sat down with an attorney who will ask the court to unseal the TBI file.
The Local I-Team’s report last month about the family’s concerns attracted the representation of prominent Memphis law firm Ballin Ballin & Fishman.
“You’ve demonstrated, and your viewership and readers have demonstrated, that this is a matter of public concern. And I think the community deserves to know what investigation into a police officer’s death, and certainly the family deserves to know, what investigation was done,” said attorney Sam Fargotstein.
Fargostein works with Leslie Ballin, the lead attorney on the case. They are preparing to seek a court order unsealing a report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into Henderson’s death. All TBI reports are sealed by law.
“It bothers me. I don’t think she killed herself. I know she didn’t,” said Henderson’s stepfather Kenneth Polk.
Henderson’s family, including stepfather Kenneth Polk, remain convinced she was murdered and brought a wrongful death lawsuit against the Memphis police sergeant they claim is responsible. That sergeant says she had nothing to do with Henderson’s death.
The family claims Memphis police overlooked important evidence but had not been granted access to the department report until our open records requests.
That report states the primary issue for Memphis police was determining whether Henderson’s conduct violated MPD policy in shooting herself. The determination of suicide was reached on the scene, according to the report.
“I think that is a terrible way to investigate an officer’s death. If you start out the process by already determining that they committed suicide when you are supposed to be determining whether or not it is a suicide or homicide,” said attorney Claiborne Ferguson.
Ferguson is a criminal defense attorney. He is not representing the Henderson’s but agreed to weigh in.
While any deficiencies in the MPD investigation may have been addressed by the later TBI investigation, because the TBI report is sealed, it is unclear how thorough the TBI investigation was.
“This is obviously a unique case, and if this was an open and shut case, perhaps TBI wouldn’t have needed to get involved,” said Fargotstein.
The Ballin law firm says it is currently only representing the Henderson’s to unseal the TBI file. Fargotstein says he plans to file court documents making the request in the next few weeks.