CINCINNATI (AP) — A white university police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black motorist during a traffic stop won’t face a third murder trial, a prosecutor announced Tuesday while saying he’s asking federal authorities to consider possible civil rights charges.
Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said he was dropping the case against Ray Tensing on the eve of the two-year anniversary of the death of Sam DuBose. Two previous juries couldn’t reach a unanimous agreement on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges against the former University of Cincinnati officer.
Deters said he concluded he wouldn’t be able to get a jury to convict Tensing and he feels “badly.”
“I’ve got to do what I think is right,” he said.
Tensing’s attorney, Stewart Mathews, said Deters made the right decision because jurors he talked to after the second trial said they felt there would “never be a unanimous decision” reached in the case.
“The system worked exactly as it’s designed to work,” Mathews said. “We tried it with two separate juries, and neither one could come to a unanimous decision, and that’s our justice system working.”
Deters agreed with Mathews that the U.S. justice system is “the best system in the world” but added: “It’s imperfect.” He referred to outrage among some people over football star O.J. Simpson’s 1995 acquittal in Los Angeles on murder charges.
“The division in this country is profound,” Deters said. “I mean, look at the O.J. Simpson case; people were like, ‘What? Not guilty?’ OK? This goes both ways, hard.”
Simpson is up for parole Thursday in Nevada after his 2008 conviction there on armed robbery and other charges.
Tensing shot DuBose in the head after pulling him over for a missing front license plate on July 19, 2015. The officer, since fired from his job, testified he feared he was going to be killed. The shooting is among numerous cases across the nation that have called attention to how police deal with blacks. It also highlighted the challenges prosecutors face in getting jurors to convict police officers for shooting when they say they’re under threat.
Tensing, 27, testified in his own defense at both trials and said he feared he could be dragged or run over as DuBose, 43, tried to drive away.
“I meant to stop the threat,” he told jurors in his second trial. “I didn’t shoot to kill him. I didn’t shoot to wound him. I shot to stop his actions.”
DuBose’s family and civil rights groups wanted a third trial. DuBose’s family earlier called for a…