Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters has announced that the Ray Tensing case will be retried. In 2015, Tensing, a white University of Cincinnati officer, shot and killed Sam DuBose.
DuBose, a black man, who was driving without a front license plate, was intentionally shot in the head, according to Tensing. The former cop said that he feared for his life and believed that DuBose was going to drag him with the car. Defense attorney Stewart Mathews explained:
“He was in sheer terror. The evidence is very clear that a car can be just as deadly as a gun or knife.”
Prosecutors say there was no evidence that Tensing was being pulled by the vehicle. While most of the interaction that led to the fatal shooting was caught on body camera video, many missing key elements created doubt in the minds of the jurors.
On September 12, Tensing was relieved after the ten whites and two blacks jurors were unable to decide his fate and announced a mistrial. The Ohio prosecutor said that he plans to change the venue and select a new jury after learning that the first jurors might have ended in a hung trial out of fear.
Deters said in interviews conducted after the trial a majority of the jurors stated that they believed that their identities and addresses would be leaked and they would be harmed for siding with the victim or the former police officer. According to Deters, the jurors also confessed to having inappropriate conversations about the case. Deters said:
“There were discussions we believe in the jury room concerning penalty, which isn’t proper. And discussions of sympathy for the defendant, which isn’t proper.”
Deters also defended his decision to request a new trial. He said in a statement:
“After careful consideration, I have decided that the Tensing case will be retried. This decision was made after review of the trial transcript, discussion with some of the jurors, and consultation with my staff.”
Mathews said he expected Deters’ decision, but thinks the second trial will have the same outcome as the first. Jay McDonald, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, was less diplomatic upon learning the news of the new trial. He stated:
“Hamilton County has already spent more than a half million dollars of taxpayer money on this case. As a fellow police officer, I’m concerned about the dangerous precedent that this case could have on other officers who might hesitate in a moment when decision-making is literally life and death.”
A hearing is set for November 28. Black Lives Matter and African-American officials from the state of Ohio are hoping that the retrial will deliver justice to the DuBose family.