Cincinnati Police Trial: Judge Declares Mistrial

The ten-member jury is still at a deadlock in the Cincinnati police trial after a 25-hour deliberation on Judge Megan Shanahan’s declaration.

Judge Megan Shanahan declared a mistrial in the Cincinnati police trial of former police officer Ray Tensing, Law Newz stated.  Tensing was charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in connection with the shooting death of motorist Sam DuBose.  Tensing shot DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015. After several days of deliberations, the jury was hung, and so the judge was forced to declare a mistrial early Saturday morning.

There was never any doubt that Tensing shot DuBose, so the main question at the trial was whether Tensing had a reasonable belief that DuBose posed a threat to cause him death or great bodily harm.  Based on the testimony, that question seemed to hinge on whether jurors believed the defense’s argument that Tensing thought he was being dragged by DuBose’s vehicle at the time he fired the shot.

During closing arguments, prosecutors tried to drive home their theory that DuBose’s vehicle did not move before the fatal shot was fired.

Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier told jurors, “Mr. Tensing was not dragged” by  the DuBose’s vehicle. Piepmeier argued the physical showed Tensing only “ran along the car a short distance, stumbled and fell.”   He also reminded jurors that the prosecution’s video expert concluded the vehicle did not move before the shot was fired.

The Cincinnati police trial has attracted demonstrators, including Black Lives Matter activists, outside the Hamilton County courthouse and is among other shootings across the country that have raised debate about how police treat black people, according to CBS News.

The prosecution said evidence including Tensing’s own body camera video contradicted his story of being dragged by DuBose’s car.

“The video is the ultimate witness … this video exposes Tensing’s lies,” Deters said during closing arguments.

He said Tensing and his lawyer became “almost comical with their word games,” calling shooting DuBose “stopping the threat” and saying he “perceived to be dragged.”

But defense attorney Stewart Mathews insisted Tensing was trying to keep from being run over.

He was in sheer terror,” Mathews told jurors. “The evidence is very clear that a car can be just as deadly as a gun or knife.”

He said prosecutors tried to use race as “a smokescreen.”They pointed to Tensing’s T-shirt worn under his uniform that day. The “Great Smoky Mountains” shirt had a Confederate flag on it. Mathews said it had “no evidentiary value.”

Deters told jurors Wednesday that “emotions are high,” but they must decide based on the facts.

Tensing wept on the stand Tuesday. He said his arm was stuck in DuBose’s car at the time and the car was turning toward him.

Deters asked Tensing about an outside report that eight out of every 10 drivers that Tensing pulled over for traffic stops were black, the highest rate of any University of Cincinnati officer.

Tensing said he was often unaware of a driver’s race, did not single people out unfairly and wasn’t racist.

Twenty-six-year-old University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing shot 43-year-old Samuel DuBose in the head after pulling him over for a missing front license plate on 19 July 2015, The Guardian reports.

Tensing testified that he feared he would be killed when DuBose dragged him with his car while trying to drive away. Prosecutors said repeatedly the evidence contradicted Tensing’s story.

The jury, of which 10 members were white and two black, was seated on 31 October. It had deliberated for 25 hours since Wednesday, following judge Megan Shanahan’s instructions.

Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said jurors had been leaning towards convicting Tensing on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, but could not agree. Deters said he would decide within the next two weeks whether to try the case again.

The shooting was one of a number across the country that have raised attention to how police deal with African Americans. Tensing was fired from the university police force.

The Countdown to Conviction Coalition, a local activist group, said in a statement that video of the incident – which showed Tensing firing point-blank at DuBose’s head – and the fact he was wearing a Confederate flag T-shirt under his uniform at the time of the shooting did not “add up to a hung jury”.

“We know that the so-called justice system itself is biased,” the statement said. “It is a racist institution, proven to have scales that tip away from the people of color.”

The coalition planned protests for Saturday afternoon and called for an immediate retrial.

That Ray Tensing is currently free and walking around in public is a travesty,” the statement said. “This result further confirms that the criminal justice system is designed to ensure that victims of state-sanctioned murder have no recourse.”

Earlier this year the University of Cincinnati, which fired Tensing shortly after the incident, reached a $5.3m settlement with DuBose’s family. In a statement, the university’s interim president, Beverly J Davenport, said the outcome of the trial “cannot and will not … divide us”.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to building a just community anchored in trust, care integrity and equity,” she said. “Our campus and our community will come together to listen, to heal and to partner for positive and lasting change. More than ever, our communities need us – and we need each other – to be beacons of a better and brighter future.”

A civil attorney for the DuBose family, Al Gerhardstein, said he met Deters after the mistrial was declared.

The family thanked him for a strong presentation,” he told the Guardian, “but they made it very, very clear that they definitely want to see the case put before a new jury and that this thing get retried.”

DuBose’s family felt supported by the prosecutor and the community, Gerhardstein said, but felt the mistrial was a “terrible way to get any sort of resolution in this tragedy”.

While the news isn’t good and this is not a good day for our criminal justice system they are not alone,” Gerhardstein said.

The justice system of the United States is at it again!  This Cincinnati police trial is just another typical example of the undeniable presence of institutional racism in the justice system. The same happened during the hearings of Freddie Gray case and it proves that each time the members of the jury get caught between the words of their consciousness and their fear of police they declare mistrial and later somehow find a way to free the killer cops. This scenario must not repeat! We will bring you the most recent updates of the story as it unfolds.

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