Dead­locked ju­rors force mis­trial in Ohio po­lice shoot­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Lisa Corn­well

Ju­rors failed to come up with a ver­dict against a white for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer charged with mur­der in the fa­tal shoot­ing of an un­armed black mo­torist and were lean­ing to­ward a lesser con­vic­tion, a prose­cu­tor said Satur­day after a mis­trial was de­clared.

The jury spent some 25 hours de­bat­ing the out­come and in­di­cated sev­eral times that they were dead­locked be­fore a judge agreed.

Prose­cu­tors will de­cide within the next two weeks whether to retry for­mer Univer­sity of Cincin­nati po­lice of­fi­cer Ray Tens­ing. He was fired after shoot­ing 43-yearold Sam DuBose in the head after pulling him over for a miss­ing front li­cense plate on July 19, 2015.

Tens­ing, 26, tes­ti­fied he feared he was go­ing to be killed. Prose­cu­tors said re­peat­edly the ev­i­dence con­tra­dicted Tens­ing’s story.

Hamil­ton County Prose­cu­tor Joe Deters ju­rors were lean­ing to­ward a con­vic­tion of vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter and ac­quit­tal on the mur­der charge. He later told me­dia out­lets the vote was dead­locked at 8-4 in fa­vor of the lesser charge.

Judge Me­gan Shana­han said the jury of 10 whites and two blacks spent two hours de­lib­er­at­ing Satur­day morn­ing after get­ting a night’s sleep and still could not reach a de­ci­sion.

“It’s ob­vi­ous to me you have made a sin­cere and con­sci­en­tious ef­fort,” the judge said be­fore set­ting a new hear­ing date for Nov. 28 to de­ter­mine whether the case will be brought back.

At­tor­ney Al Ger­hard­stein, who rep­re­sents the DuBose fam­ily, said they want an­other trial and can’t un­der­stand why the jury couldn’t reach a con­clu­sion.

“With the video ev­i­dence as clear as it is, they shouldn’t have been so stuck,” he said.

The city’s mayor and po­lice chief said they un­der­stood why the fam­ily and oth­ers were dis­ap­pointed, but both also ex­pected a peace­ful re­sponse.

“Down­town is safe. The city is safe. We are go­ing to get through this,” said Mayor John Cran­ley. “Peo­ple are go­ing to be an­gry, and they have ev­ery right to ex­press their First Amend­ment rights and they will do so peace­fully.”

The shoot­ing is among those across the na­tion that have raised at­ten­tion to how po­lice deal with blacks.

About 1,000 protesters marched peace­fully through down­town chant­ing “Black lives mat­ter, Sam’s life mat­ters.”

The crowd briefly blocked a street­car line and grew in num­bers when they were joined by peo­ple leav­ing a rally op­pos­ing the elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as pres­i­dent. The group broke up Satur­day af­ter­noon with­out any trou­ble.

Gwen Boggs, a re­tired high school teacher, joined the mostly young group to “rep­re­sent my com­mu­nity and my fam­ily and all those who need to have a voice.”

She said she was shocked the jury did not find Tens­ing guilty. “We have all this com­pelling ev­i­dence. I just can’t un­der­stand why it was a hung jury,” she said.

To con­vict Tens­ing of mur­der, ju­rors would have had to find he pur­posely killed DuBose. The charge car­ried a pos­si­ble sen­tence of 15 years to life in prison. The vol­un­tary man­slaugh­ter charge means killing dur­ing sud­den fit of rage and car­ries a pos­si­ble sen­tence of three to 11 years.

Le­gal ex­perts say ju­ries gen­er­ally tend to give po­lice of­fi­cers the ben­e­fit of the doubt be­cause of the in­her­ent dan­gers of their jobs, but that they will con­vict if the po­lice ac­tions were clearly un­war­ranted.

In tear­ful tes­ti­mony Tues­day, Tens­ing said his arm was stuck in DuBose’s car after he tried to stop him from driv­ing away by grab­bing the car keys. “I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘Oh my God, he’s go­ing to run me over and he’s go­ing to kill me,’” Tens­ing said.

An ex­pert hired by prose­cu­tors said his anal­y­sis of the for­mer of­fi­cer’s body cam­era video shows the of­fi­cer was not be­ing dragged by the car. A de­fense ex­pert coun­tered that the video shows Tens­ing was jus­ti­fied in fear­ing for his life be­cause his body was “vi­o­lently twisted” dur­ing the con­fronta­tion.

Deters sug­gested that Tens­ing had racial mo­tives, say­ing a study found that eight of ev­ery 10 driv­ers Tens­ing pulled over for traf­fic stops were black, the high­est rate of any Univer­sity of Cincin­nati of­fi­cer. Tens­ing also made more traf­fic stops and ci­ta­tions than other UC of­fi­cers. Deters also pointed to a T-shirt with Con­fed­er­ate flag on it that Tens­ing was wear­ing un­der his uni­form the day of the shoot­ing.

Tens­ing said he was of­ten un­aware of a driver’s race, did not sin­gle peo­ple out un­fairly and was not racist. He tes­ti­fied that the Con­fed­er­ate flag on his T-shirt had no mean­ing to him.

The trial was con­ducted un­der beefed-up se­cu­rity, and city of­fi­cials had met with civil rights and faith lead­ers in the weeks be­fore it be­gan in hopes of re­duc­ing un­rest. The city suf­fered 2001 ri­ots sparked by the fa­tal shoot­ing of 19-year-old Ti­mothy Thomas, a black man who was wanted on mis­de­meanor war­rants and was flee­ing from po­lice.

Protesters on Satur­day passed the area where Thomas died.

JOHN MINCHILLO—THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A pro­tes­tor waits out­side Hamil­ton County Court­house on the third day of jury de­lib­er­a­tions into Ray Tens­ing’s mur­der trial, Fri­day in Cincin­nati. Tens­ing, the for­mer Univer­sity of Cincin­nati po­lice of­fi­cer, is charged with mur­der­ing Sam DuBose while on duty dur­ing a rou­tine traf­fic stop on July 19, 2015.

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