weather icon Clear

Former Cincinnati cop on trial for death of black motorist

CINCINNATI — A former University of Cincinnati police officer on trial for the murder of an unarmed black motorist feared for his life as the traffic stop unfolded, his attorney said on Thursday.

DuBose’s death fueled U.S. demonstrations against the use of lethal force by white officers against unarmed blacks and other minorities, an issue that renewed debate about racial bias by police.

Officer Ray Tensing, 27, shot once, hitting Samuel DuBose, 43, in the head, body-camera video showed, after stopping him for a missing front license plate on his car in July 2015. Tensing, who is white, is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in a retrial.

“Ray Tensing, as he made that traffic stop, he didn’t anticipate that Sam DuBose was going to drive off with Ray’s arm caught in that car,” Stew Mathews told the jury during opening statements at a county courthouse in Cincinnati.

“This all happened so quickly that instinctively Ray Tensing did the only thing he could do to save his own life,” Mathews added.

Tensing, who has pleaded not guilty and is free on a $1 million bond, was afraid he would be dragged and possibly killed as DuBose started to drive away, Mathews said after discussing how Tensing had reached into the car.

Tensing “wasn’t a racist,” said Mathews, adding he will present video of other Tensing traffic stops of black drivers, showing the officer to be professional and polite. If DuBose had cooperated with Tensing during the stop, he would not be dead, Mathews said.

During the traffic stop, Tensing asked DuBose to remove his seat belt and tried to open the car door. DuBose did not comply and closed the door. The vehicle started rolling forward slowly, and with his arm pinned against the steering wheel, according to his lawyer, Tensing pulled his gun and fired once.

Hamilton County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid, in brief opening remarks, said on Thursday that Tensing ignored his training when he reached into the car and was never in any danger.


“Mr. Tensing was not trapped,” she said. “This is clearly a murder.”

The university police fired Tensing after he was charged. A mistrial was declared last November in the first trial after jurors could not agree on a verdict.

A jury of 12 people – seven white females, two white males, two black females and one black male – are hearing the case at the Hamilton County Courthouse.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Planned Parenthood builds Alabama clinic despite abortion law

Planned Parenthood is building the stage for another possible fight over abortion in Alabama: a large women’s clinic that’s under construction despite the state’s passage of a near-total ban on abortions.

Manafort to remain in federal custody, won’t go to Rikers

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been transferred to a correctional facility in New York but will remain in federal custody while he faces state fraud charges, a Justice Department official said Tuesday.

Former soccer chief detained as part of 2022 World Cup investigation

Former UEFA president Michel Platini was questioned by police Tuesday after being arrested in a corruption probe of the vote that gave the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a judicial official said.

US, Iran moves sure to inflame Mideast tensions

In a test of resolve and credibility for the United States and Iran, the two adversaries have taken steps sure to further inflame tensions in the Mideast and draw them closer to a flashpoint.

Trump threatens to deport millions beginning next week

President Donald Trump is threatening to remove millions of people living in the country illegally on the eve of formally announcing his re-election bid.

Combat vets in jury pool for Navy SEAL’s murder trial

SAN DIEGO — Seasoned combat veterans who described losing comrades and taking war prisoners were questioned Monday as possible jurors in the trial of a decorated Navy SEAL charged with killing a wounded Islamic State captive in Iraq.