CINCINNATI – Jurors in the retrial of a white University of Cincinnati police officer charged in the fatal traffic stop shooting of an unarmed black motorist said Friday that they are deadlocked, but a judge told them to keep deliberating.
The Hamilton County jury announced that it couldn't reach a verdict on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in Officer Ray Tensing's trial after more than 27 hours of deliberations over five days. Judge Leslie Ghiz sent them back to the deliberation room where, she said, "Hopefully, you're able to resolve your deadlock."
A solemn-looking Tensing, 27, sat with his head lowered in the courtroom as Ghiz read a note sent to her by the jury: "We are unable to come to a unanimous decision on either count after thorough deliberation. How should we proceed?"
Ghiz then gave the jury of nine whites and three blacks formal instructions to re-examine their views and listen to one another's opinions.
"It is your duty to decide the case if you can conscientiously do so," she said.
Prosecutors and the defense agree that Tensing shot 43-year-old Sam DuBose in the head after pulling him over for a missing front license plate on July 19, 2015.
As in his first trial, Tensing testified in his own defense and said he feared he could be dragged or run over as DuBose tried to drive away. He was in tears at some points.
"I meant to stop the threat," he told jurors last week. "I didn't shoot to kill him. I didn't shoot to wound him. I shot to stop his actions."
Prosecutors said repeatedly the evidence contradicted Tensing's story. An expert hired by prosecutors said his frame-by-frame analysis of the former officer's body camera video showed the officer was not being dragged by the car.
His first trial ended in a mistrial when the jury deadlocked. Tensing's first jury of 10 whites and two blacks deliberated 25 hours over four days in November before a mistrial was declared. In that case, the jury first reported it couldn't reach a verdict on the third day, and a different judge sent them back to continue. They returned the next day to say they remained hung.
The University of Cincinnati fired Tensing last year after his indictment. It restructured its public safety department and made other policing reforms. The university reached a $5.3 million settlement with DuBose's family, including free undergraduate tuition for DuBose's 13 children.
The case is among several across the country in recent years that have raised attention to how police deal with blacks. It's also among cases that show the difficulties prosecutors face in gaining convictions against police for on-duty shootings.
A jury last week acquitted a Minnesota officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop. And jurors Wednesday acquitted a black police officer of first-degree reckless homicide in the death of a black Milwaukee man who threw away the gun he was carrying during a brief foot chase after a traffic stop.
Jurors in the Tensing case began deliberations Monday afternoon. They submitted a question Tuesday about the location of a piece of evidence. At the end of the day, they came into the courtroom where the judge praised their work and encouraged them to "hang in there."
Ghiz continues to restrict media coverage. News organizations including The Associated Press have a pending lawsuit against her restrictions on the use of cellphones and other electronic devices.
To convict Tensing of murder, jurors have to find he purposely killed DuBose. The charge carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
The voluntary manslaughter charge means killing during sudden passion or a fit of rage. That carries a possible sentence of three to 11 years.
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