An Ohio judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a former University of Cincinnati police officer who shot and killed a black man who had been pulled over for a missing front license plate last year.
The jury of 10 whites and two blacks had been deliberating for more than 25 hours since Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. On Saturday morning Judge Megan Shanahan declared the jury was hopelessly deadlocked.
Ray Tensing, 26, faced life in prison after being charged with murder in the killing of Sam DuBose near the university.
The officer testified that his arm was stuck in the car as DuBose tried to speed away. Tensing said he feared he was going to be killed and fired one shot, striking DuBose in the head.
Tensing was fired by the University of Cincinnati. At trial, prosecutors revealed that Tensing was wearing a T-shirt with a Confederate flag on it beneath his uniform.
DuBose’s killing added Cincinnati to the list of cities where officers have fatally shot unarmed black civilians. Tensing was indicted almost a year after another black man, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Police killed 991 people in the line of duty in 2015, according to a Washington Post database of police shootings. So far this year, officers have killed 832 people.
Body camera footage of the fatal interaction between DuBose and Tensing was released last summer. In the video, DuBose tells Tensing that he is licensed to drive but doesn’t have his driver’s license on him.
“Be straight up with me, are you suspended?” Tensing asks.
Tensions rise when Tensing asks DuBose to take off his seat belt, apparently to arrest him.
“I ain’t even do nothing,” DuBose says, and he starts to turn on the car’s ignition.
Tensing yells “Stop! Stop!” then he thrusts the weapon through the open car window and fires a single round.
In an interview shortly after the killing, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters told reporters: “This is the first time that we’ve thought this is without question a murder.”
The officer, Deters said, “wasn’t dealing with someone who was wanted for murder. He was dealing with someone who didn’t have a front license plate. This was, in the vernacular, a pretty chicken-crap stop. I’m treating him like a murderer.”
In a statement, the university extended its thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the shooting.
“We remain steadfast in our commitment to building a just community anchored in trust, care, integrity and equity,” interim president Beverly J. Davenport said in a statement tweeted out by the university. “Our campus and our community will come together to listen, to heal and to partner for positive and lasting change.”
Last year protesters descended on the university’s campus, calling the shooting unjustified. And on Saturday, hours after the mistrial was declared, demonstrators briefly blocked Cincinnati’s downtown streetcar line.
Deters told the AP that jurors were leaning toward convicting Tensing on a lesser charge, but couldn’t agree. Shanahan set a new hearing date for Nov. 28 to determine whether the case will be retried.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Cleve R. Wootson Jr.