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Jurors View Body Cam Video On First Day Of Tensing Retrial Testimony

Cara Owsley
Ray Tensing listens to the opening statement by his defense attorney Stew Mathews on the first day of Tensing's retrial in Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Leslie Ghiz's courtroom Thursday, June 8, 2017.

Jurors in the retrial of former UC police officer Ray Tensing for the shooting death of Sam DuBose saw the body camera video of the incident during the first day of proceedings. Tensing looked away from the courtroom's large screen television as the shooting played out just a few feet from where he was seated at the defense table.

Tensing faces murder and voluntary manslaughter charges for the July 2015 shooting. His first trial ended in a hung jury late last year.

During opening statements, assistant prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid told the jury they'll come to see how Tensing failed to follow proper procedures.

"When Mr. Tensing pulled over Mr. DuBose," DeGraffenreid said, "he didn't use his training, and he didn't do the things that he should have done. And he'll tell us he intentionally shot Mr. DuBose."

Credit Cara Owsley / Pool
Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid examines UC police Lt. Tim Barge, after opening statements.

The prosecution's video expert, DeGraffenreid says, "will go through, screen by screen, shot by shot, and walk us through that video. It is very quick; however, the expert will be able to have us walk through it. You'll be able to use your common sense, listen to him, and you'll be able to make your own decisions."

While DeGraffenreid's remarks lasted about ten minutes, the defense took a bit longer at around a half an hour.

Defense attorney Stew Mathews followed DeGraffenreid saying the jury would now hear, in the words of radio announcer Paul Harvey, "the rest of the story."

Credit Cara Owsley / Pool
Defense attorney Stew Mathews examines UC police Lt. Tim Barge.

Mathews described the events leading up to the fatal traffic stop, insisting Tensing was following a mandate from UC authorities to crack down on crime around the campus.

The policy, Mathews said, was working and UC officials were happy about it.

The body camera video will likely be the key piece of evidence in the retrial as it was in the first. Mathews told jurors the video is blurry and the event unfolded quickly.

"This is not like an NFL football game or an NBA basketball game where you have ten cameras looking at the same thing from different angles," he said. "This happened in 2.853 seconds, I think. You've got one camera (and) it's blurry."

Mathews also detailed traffic stops Tensing made prior to pulling over Sam DuBose. He used the stops to suggest Tensing was fair and nice, and not a racist as the prosecution or others may suggest.

"The point of that is Ray Tensing was professional. He was courteous. He was polite. And had Sam DuBose cooperated with him, his stop could've ended the same way," Mathews argued.

Two witnesses took the stand Thursday including UC police Lt. Tim Barge, who oversees the university's body camera program, and Officer Philip Kidd who was one of the first to arrive on the scene.

Credit Cara Owsley / Pool
UC police Lt. Tim Barge shows a body camera on the witness stand on the first day of Raymond Tensing's retrial

Lt. Tim Barge was questioned about why officers were patrolling off campus. He said former UC Chief Jason Goodrich wanted to step up patrols and that a mandate came down for officers to let "the criminal element" know they were actively patrolling in the area.

Officer Kidd testified, as he did in the first trial, that he heard squealing tires and heard a gunshot. On re-direct assistant prosecutor Seth Tieger got Kidd to say that he had initially said Tensing lunged into the car with two hands, which was later shown not to be the case.

Kidd and his trainee, Officer David Lindenschmidt pulled up to the scene seconds before the shooting because they'd heard Tensing's radio call that DuBose's car was "slow to stop," a sign to officers that something might be wrong about a situation.

Immediately after the shooting, Kidd's body camera video, which he didn't engage until he was standing next to DuBose's crashed car, shows Tensing saying to Kidd "I was dragged." Kidd responds, "Yes, I saw that."

When asked about that statement in court, Kidd said he saw "Tensing moving with the car."

Kidd also described for the jury the two-step process required to remove a weapon from a UC duty belt. That process, he said, involves pushing down in one place and then pulling a lever.

When court continues on Friday, Judge Leslie Ghiz expects to hear from witnesses including two civilian witnesses, one of which is likely Alicia Napier, the woman who was in the car parked in front of DuBose's at the time of the shooting, and two Cincinnati police officers, Kim Horning and Shannon Heine.

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