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There Will Not Be A Third Tensing Trial

Tana Weingartner
Protesters outside the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office chant and hold signs calling for Ray Tensing to be tried a third time for the death of Sam DuBose.

After two mistrials, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says he will not try a former University of Cincinnati police officer a third time."After discussing this matter with multiple jurors, both black and white, they have to a person said to us that we will never get a conviction in this case," Deters says.

Deters says he ethically can't proceed with another trial if he doesn't believe he can get a conviction.

Ray Tensing shot and killed Sam DuBose during an off-campus traffic stop on July 19, 2015 for a missing front license plate. Tensing maintains he fired because he feared for his life when DuBose's car began moving during the stop. Prosecutors call the shooting unjustified.

The case has been referred to the U.S. Attorney's office for possible civil rights charges. U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman with the Southern District of Ohio says his office will "review the evidence from the state court trials in order to assess whether there are possible federal civil rights offenses warranting investigation and potential prosecution."

During a news conference Tuesday, Deters says that could include evidence his office was not allowed to enter such as Tensing's rate of arrest of African Americans and the Confederate flag t-shirt he was wearing under his uniform at the time of the shooting.

Tensing's attorney, Stew Mathews, says Tensing is "somewhat relieved because he doesn't have to face a third trial in Hamilton County." However, he's concerned that it still goes on at the federal level.

DuBose family members were visibly distraught outside the prosecutor's office after the announcement. They vowed to continue fighting for Sam DuBose and others who have been killed by police.

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Sam DuBose's mother Audrey (left) and brother, Aubrey, react after learning there will not be a third trial for the former UC police officer who shot and killed Sam DuBose.

DuBose's sister Terina Allen says there could have been a guilty verdict.

"You've got to keep going. If in the United States of America we're going to honor and hold cops as heroes, then they've got to be held to a higher damn standard when it comes to shooting people," Allen said. "I am absolutely disgusted that Tensing gets to shoot Sam in the head, run out the clock and the lesson for all other bad cops out there is 'just shoot them.'"

Allen says her brother's death exposes a bigger problem in the country. She hopes the failure to prosecute Tensing for a third time doesn't mean other police officers won't be charged.

Allen pointed to the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman in Minneapolis last weekend.

"I don't care if you're white or black. This fight, to me, is about law enforcement having free reign to shoot and kill people," Allen said. "They're just getting away with it far more with blacks. They're doing it way more with blacks but they're doing it to every ethnic group in America."

Allen says she was raised to respect police officers but will not respect a society that allows them to violate the law.

There were demonstrators outside the prosecutor's office. One called for violence, but Sam DuBose's mother, Audrey, demanded peaceful change. She says taking lives would be hypocritical.

"I trust God and I trust him totally. I trust him to fight this battle," she said. "I'm not fighting, I'm just standing up for it. We've got to stand up and say 'enough is enough.' Our people are not going to die by the hand of cops or anyone else."

DuBose says the judicial system isn't fair, and won't be until people stand up to it.

Juries in two previous murder and voluntary manslaughter trials, one in a November and a second in June, were unable to find consensus and two mistrials were declared.

The DuBose family and groups including Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati and the NAACP had called for Tensing to be tried a third time.

The next court date is set for July 24 in front of Hamilton County Judge Leslie Ghiz.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.
Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.