CINCINNATI – Attorneys for a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black motorist Wednesday asked an Ohio judge to dismiss the charges on the eve of his murder retrial, claiming the county prosecutor violated a gag order.
Ray Tensing's defense filed the motion less than two hours after WCPO-TV in Cincinnati posted a story in which Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters is quoted about the case. Among other things, he said Judge Leslie Ghiz could add lesser charges to the original charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter for the new jury to consider.
The previous jury couldn't reach a verdict in November. Deters also said a strong majority of those jurors voted to convict Tensing of voluntary manslaughter.
"This violation of the gag order is a blatant attempt to influence and bias prospective jurors on the eve of the reporting date," Tensing's attorneys wrote.
Prospective retrial jurors are scheduled to report to the courthouse Thursday morning.
The defense motion said the only way to address the alleged "prejudicial conduct" is to dismiss the charges. A message for comment was left Wednesday with the prosecutor's office.
The judge did not immediately respond to the request for the charges to be dismissed.
"I don't think it warrants a dismissal, and I don't think Judge Ghiz will dismiss it," said attorney Mike Allen, a former county prosecutor. "An elected prosecutor needs to speak out on issues; I understand that because I was there. But the gag order should be obeyed."
He said he was "at a loss" on why Deters discussed the case in the interview.
Allen has been saying since before the first trial that prosecutors should have given jurors the option of lesser charges such as reckless or negligent homicide.
Tensing, 27, a former University of Cincinnati officer, testified he feared for his life when Samuel DuBose, 43, tried to drive away during a July 2015 traffic stop.
Deters revamped the prosecution team for the retrial, including taking himself off the case.
Ghiz earlier scheduled a Friday hearing on pending motions concerning potential evidence in the case.
It's among U.S. cases that have increased attention to how police respond to blacks.
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