CINCINNATI — An Ohio prosecutor said Tuesday he will again seek a murder conviction against a white former University of Cincinnati police officer, and wants to move the trial after a jury couldn’t agree on a verdict in the fatal shooting of a black man during a traffic stop.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he wants to move the case to seat a jury that won’t be feeling fear and community pressure in the Ray Tensing case. A judge declared a mistrial Nov. 12, when jurors deadlocked after deliberating some 25 hours on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 2015 shooting of Sam DuBose by the then-University of Cincinnati police officer. Deters will retry him on both counts, but said the murder charge is appropriate.
“It’s my belief that Sam DuBose was murdered. Period,” Deters said.
Tensing’s attorney, Stewart Mathews, has asked the judge to acquit Tensing in the aftermath of the mistrial. He had asked to move the first trial because of pretrial publicity and comments by Deters and other local officials.
Mathews didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment Tuesday.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for Nov. 28 before Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan.
Tensing testified in his trial that he feared for his life when DuBose tried to drive away.
Deters repeated Tuesday that the shooting wasn’t justified, and that no one should be shot in the head for a traffic stop — DuBose was pulled over near the university campus for a missing front license plate.
“It troubles me deeply that this happened,” Deters said.
DuBose family members, the Cincinnati City Council and groups including faith leaders have pushed for a new murder trial.
Prosecutors said repeatedly during the trial the evidence contradicted Tensing’s story. Deters said after the mistrial the jury was leaning toward a conviction on voluntary manslaughter.
The jury of 10 whites and two blacks was seated Oct. 31 for the first trial.
To convict Tensing, now 27, of murder, jurors had to find he purposely killed the 43-year-old DuBose. The charge carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life in prison with conviction. The voluntary manslaughter charge means the killing happened during sudden passion or a fit of rage. That carries a possible sentence of three to 11 years.
The case is one of several across the country calling attention to how police deal with blacks.