Mistrial After Jury Deadlocks On Cop Who Shot Unarmed Black Man During Traffic Stop
The Ohio prosecutor described Ray Tensing's shooting of Samuel Dubose as "the most asinine act" he'd seen a police officer make.
An Ohio judge declared a mistrial Saturday in the trial of Ray Tensing, a University of Cincinnati police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man during a traffic stop, after the jury deadlocked and could not reach a verdict.
The Hamilton County jury had originally informed the judge they were deadlocked on Friday, but she had sent them back into deliberations to try to reach a verdict.
"It is desirable that the case be decided. You are selected in the same manner and from the same source as every future jury would be," Judge Megan Shanahan said, according to local NBC affiliate WLWT5. "There is no reason to believe the case would ever be submitted to a jury more capable, impartial or intelligent than this one."
But despite deliberating for a total of 25 hours, the jury ultimately could not reach a unanimous verdict on either the murder or involuntary manslaughter charges against Tensing, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial on Saturday morning.
Body camera footage of the July 19, 2015 shooting showed Tensing trying to open the car door when Samuel Dubose refused to get out of the car, asking the officer repeatedly why he had been pulled over. Dubose's vehicle was missing a front license plate.
After the shooting, Tensing had originally said that he had been dragged by the car before firing into it, hitting Dubose in the head. Dubose died at the scene.
The footage, however, showed the car slowly rolling away and Tensing shooting into the car just seconds after a scuffle erupted.
"I can tell you categorically that if we did not have that body cam there would not have been charges filed," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters told reporters on Saturday after the mistrial was declared.
"We convinced a lot of [the jurors], but not enough," Deters said.
Deters said his office will decide by Nov. 28 whether to request a retrial.
After initially filing charges in July 2015, Deters had called the shooting "the most asinine act I've ever seen a police officer make."
Officials said the shooting was unwarranted, pointing out that Dubose was unarmed and was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction.
"[Tensing] wasn't dealing with someone wanted for murder," Deters said after Tensing was charged. "He was dealing with someone with a missing front license plate."
And although Dubose was not following commands, the situation should not have escalated the way it did, Deters added.
Tensing has been out of prison on bond since July 2015.
In January, the University of Cincinnati settled a lawsuit with Dubose's family for $5.3 million.
University of Cincinnati interim president Beverly J. Davenport released a statement after the mistrial was declared, calling on the community to come together.
"We cannot and will not let the outcome of this trial divide us," Davenport said. "We remain steadfast in our commitment to building a just community anchored in trust, care, integrity, and equity."