Undeterred by Mistrial, Ohio Prosecutor Will Retry Officer Charged with Shooting Unarmed Black Motorist

Former Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing arrives in court for his arraignment in 2015. AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Former Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing arrives in court for his arraignment in 2015. AP Photo/John Minchillo)

An Ohio prosecutor announced Tuesday his plans to retry a former police officer indicted for murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man last summer.

Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters said in a news conference Tuesday morning that his office would pursue the same charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter against  former Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing, who shot and killed motorist Sam DuBose during a traffic stop on July 19, 2015.

This time, Deters is hoping to have the trial moved to a different venue outside the county, citing intense media scrutiny surrounding the high-profile case.

“It is our belief that the public attention that has been focused on the Tensing case could have, in fact, seeped into the jury room,” Deters said.

According to CBS News, a Hamilton County jury considered the case for three days before a mistrial was declared on Nov. 12. The unexpected outcome angered Black Lives Matter activists and local community leaders, who demanded justice for DuBose and the countless other African-Americans who’ve fallen victim to police brutality.

Deters noted that many jurors feared their identities would be compromised after the case, and also indicated that they’d engaged in “inappropriate” conversations during deliberations.

“There were discussions, we believe, in the jury room concerning penalty, which isn’t proper,” he said. “And discussions of sympathy for the defendant, which isn’t proper.”

Despite the setback, Deters said he remains undeterred in his fight for justice on behalf of DuBose and is confident the retrial will result in a conviction.

“We are seeking justice,” he said. “It is my belief that Sam DuBose was murdered. Period. There is a chance of probable success in the event of another trial and we will be doing that.”

Body-cam video of the deadly incident shows Tensing intentionally shooting DuBose in the head after the officer claimed he feared for his life. In his initial testimony, Tensing said he was dragged by DuBose’s vehicle, but the body-cam footage belied that statement.

Days before the mistrial, prosecutors also submitted evidence that focused on the ex-cop’s Confederate flag T-shirt, which he wore underneath his uniform on the day of the deadly shooting. The evidence highlighted the fact that race likely played a factor in the shooting. Still, it wasn’t enough to get a conviction.

“Our lives have been on hold since Sam died,” said DuBose’s sister, Trina Allen, at Tuesday’s press conference. “Wherever this trial is, we are going to be there. … I am fighting for my brother and my son and every Black man in America. If this gets to stand and this is not murder, I don’t think anybody is safe. … I think police officers will be told there is no accountability.”

Cincinnati’s Fox19 news reported that Ohio’s Fraternal Order of Police has since denounced Deter’s push for a retrial, noting that the county had already spent over a half-million taxpayer dollars on the case. The police union went on to call the retrial “wasteful” and insisted the case would likely return the same results as before.

“This is especially meaningful at a time when police are being targeted and assassinated at a shocking rate,” the FOP said in a statement. “We’re disappointed that Officer Tensing will be subjected to a second trial, but what’s most important now is for him to get a fair hearing. We continue to stand with Officer Tensing.”

Deters’ alternative options for the Tensing trial include dropping the murder charge and retrying the ex-officer on a lesser one, dropping both charges and asking that a jury decide on lesser charges like reckless or negligent homicide, offering Tensing a plea deal on lesser charges or no retrial at all, Fox19 reported.

The prosecutor is expected to go before a judge next week to request a new venue for the retrial.

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