Mistrial Declared in Retrial of Cincinnati Officer Charged With Fatally Shooting Unarmed Black Man

Ray Tensing, left, a former University of Cincinnati police officer, during his retrial in the fatal shooting of a black man, Samuel DuBose. (Pool photo by Cara Owsley)

The encounters with the police officers turned deadly within seconds. Each time, a black man was fatally shot, and each time, it was captured on video. And three times in the span of a week, the officers’ trials have ended without a conviction.

On Friday, it was jurors here who were hopelessly deadlocked in the retrial of Raymond M. Tensing, the former University of Cincinnati police officer who faced charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter for fatally shooting Samuel DuBose, an unarmed motorist, in 2015. Mr. Tensing’s first trial, held last fall, also ended with a hung jury.

“We are almost evenly split regarding our final votes,” read the note passed from the jury to Judge Leslie Ghiz, who declared a mistrial as rain lashed against the windows of her chilly downtown courtroom. Mr. Tensing dropped his head into his hand and squeezed his eyes, while one man seated with Mr. DuBose’s family hung his head and looked out at the rain.

As she walked out of the courtroom, Terina DuBose-Allen, a sister of Mr. DuBose’s, spoke quietly: “I think it’s horrible.”

Jurors had deliberated for more than 30 hours in the case, which revolved around a botched traffic stop that prosecutors once called “asinine” and “senseless.”

The mistrial left prosecutors weighing whether to try Mr. Tensing a third time, and what charges to use if they do. Last week, partway through the trial, prosecutors had sought to add a third — and lesser — charge of reckless homicide to the jury’s options. Judge Ghiz denied the motion, saying, in essence, that it was too late.

Joseph T. Deters, the head prosecutor in Hamilton County, said he would not comment on his plans until next week.

But Mr. DuBose’s family — along with activists gathered outside the courtroom — urged the prosecutors to press on. “We are outraged that a second jury has now failed to convict Ray Tensing,” Audrey DuBose, Mr. DuBose’s mother, said in a statement. “We demand another retrial.”

In the wake of acquittals of police officers in St. Paul a week ago and Milwaukee on Wednesday, the mistrial here underscored a difficult reality for prosecutors and activists who want officers held criminally liable in cases like these: A conviction is far from assured, even when there is video evidence and an aggressive prosecutor.

In St. Paul, jurors watched dashboard video showing Officer Jeronimo Yanez shoot into the car where Philando Castile, a cafeteria worker, was sitting with his fiancée and her daughter, and acquitted the officer. In Milwaukee, jurors acquitted Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown after watching frame by frame as he shot a fleeing suspect, Sylville K. Smith, and fired a second time after Mr. Smith tossed a gun he was holding and lay on the ground.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Jess Bidgood and Richard Perez-Pena