AKRON, Ohio — A former Navy SEAL fabricated his story about being shot during a racially-tinged confrontation with a black man in a Bath Township shopping plaza last winter, police said.
As a result of the lengthy police investigation, Christopher Heben, 44, was charged Wednesday in Akron Municipal Court with misdemeanor counts of falsification and obstructing police.
No court date has been set.
Bath Police Chief Michael McNeely said there’s no doubt Heben was shot in the abdomen March 28. However, the chief said the evidence — or lack of evidence — shows Heben was not shot at the West Market Plaza as he contends.
McNeely said he in unsure when or where Heben was shot.
“All we know is that it didn’t happened in our township,” he said.
Heben could not be immediately reached for comment. A message seeking comment was left with his attorney.
At the time of the alleged assault, Heben told reporters an elaborate story of being shot, getting into his vehicle and then pursuing his attacker’s car until he began to lose consciousness.
McNeely said detectives could not find witnesses to support Heben’s story. Video cameras also fail to show Heben at the plaza. In addition, he said, cell phone records show Heben was not at the plaza at the time of the shooting.
News accounts and social media after the shooting prompted an outpouring of concern for Heben.
Heben, a TV spokesman for Montrose Ford, is considered a military expert and is often sought by cable TV news for comments on world affairs.
During an interview with the Beacon Journal last March, Heben said he was outside the Mustard Seed Market in Bath Township when he had a verbal exchange with a driver.
The argument, he said, started after a car backed into him as he walked in the parking lot.
“I said, ‘Dude, you almost [expletive] ran me over — you need to pay attention to what you are doing,’” Heben recalled then.
Heben said he started to walk into the Mustard Seed store when he stopped to return to his truck to retrieve his wallet. That’s when a second confrontation ensued.
He said the driver, who was black, told him, “You got a big mouth white boy. You need to learn some [expletive] respect.”
Heben said he then told the driver: “Look dude, in my world, you have to earn respect” and offered to “help him out right now.”
He said that’s when he was shot.
“It felt like a mule kick to my stomach,” he said.
Heben said he then jumped into his truck to chase the car. During the pursuit, Heben realized he was bleeding and put a finger in what he believed to be a bullet hole in his lower abdomen.
“I was adrenaline fueled and pissed off and I was definitely on the hunt,” he said.
Feeling light-headed, he aborted the chase and went to the Bath Township police and fire departments on Cleveland-Massillon Road.
He said doctors removed a metal object from his stomach, but he did not know what type of bullet it was.
Heben served as a SEAL from 1996 to 2006 and had multiple overseas deployments including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. On Facebook, he describes himself as a “Human Motivator. X-Treme Athlete and the Voice of Under Armor’s ‘Ridge Reaper’ TV show.”
He is also a health care professional, veterans advocate, voice actor, actor, writer, singer/songwriter and author.
©2014 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) / Distributed by MCT Information Services