Raymond Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, Samuel Dubose, during a traffic stop, won’t be tried for a third time.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced his decision not to seek a third trial on Monday after Tensing’s two preceding trials concluded with hung juries. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Deters described the case’s outcome as “incredibly disappointing,” but also noted that a federal attorney will review a civil rights case against Tensing.
With the case referred to U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman, Deters said that the federal attorney had a “better chance” of landing a conviction against Tensing. If found guilty of civil rights violations, Tensing could face life in prison.
Tensing, then 25, was indicted in 2015 for murder and voluntary manslaughter after he killed DuBose, who he had pulled over for driving without a license plate just outside of the University of Cincinnati campus. Tensing asked DuBose for his license, which he did not have, and to step out of the car.
Throughout the trial, Tensing maintained that he feared for his safety, despite potentially contradictory body camera footage. Following Tensing’s request that DuBose step outside the car, DuBose can be heard saying “I didn’t even do nothing” and restarting the engine of his car. Seconds after DuBose started the car, Tensing pulled out his gun and shot DuBose in the head — firing one shot.
According to Deters, in November’s trial, the jury voted eight to four to convict on the voluntary manslaughter charges. The second trial, which concluded in late June, favored the defense: seven jurors voted to acquit Tensing and five voted to convict.
Both hung juries were overwhelmingly white: In the first trial, ten out of 12 jurors were white; in the second trial, nine out of 12 jurors were white.
Deters’s dismay with the jury and justice system were evident in his announcement, per USA Today:
“There are two visions of what is going on in the country. It’s not just Hamilton County, it’s the country. It’s heartbreaking,” Deters said of juries in November and June being unable to reach a decision.
He called the U.S. justice system imperfect.
“This is not a new thing. It’s the system we have,” he said. “It’s better than just getting thrown in the slammer like in North Korea.”
Speaking after Deters’s announcement, the DuBose family expressed profound disbelief. “There no justice for us as black people in this country. They’re killing our children. The system is set up where we can’t get ahead, where we can’t win, where we can’t get victory,” Audrey DuBose, Sam’s mother, said.
DuBose’s sister, Terina Allen, was piercingly honest in her response to the mistrials and Deters’s inability to seek a third trial with lesser charges. “I am absolutely disgusted that Tensing gets to shoot Sam and then run out the clock,” Allen read from a statement. “Everybody in America, ask yourself, is this what you want for your family member?”