Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Police officer who killed unarmed black man Sam DuBose cleared of murder

Alfredo Watts | 26 June, 2017, 03:39

The circumstances in the DuBose, Castile, and Smith killings were suspicious enough that Tensing, Yanez, and Heaggan-Brown were all fired or asked to leave their departments. Another University of Cincinnati police officer who witnessed the incident testified that he heard gunshots after the sound of tires screeching.

Tensing told investigators that he feared for his life. When DuBose couldn't find it, Tensing grew frustrated and asked the motorist to undo his seat belt. The white officer had just arrived on the scene of a suspected crime and, according to a police statement, failing to recognize his black colleague and "fearing for his safety", shot him in the arm.

The case is among several across the country in recent years that have raised attention to how police deal with blacks.

Minnesota officer Jeronimo Yanaz was acquitted on June 16 for fatally shooting Philando Castile, also during what was supposed to be a routine traffic stop.

It is the fourth time that courts haven't convicted police officers charged with the death of black men.

Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joe Deters would not comment until early next week, a spokeswoman said.

Tensing was tried for the first time in November.

The first trial took place in 2016, and a mistrial was declared then after the jury was deadlocked.

Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger told the jury that Tensing made a tactical error when he reached his left arm inside DuBose's vehicle and then escalated the problem by firing his weapon. Dubose pulls the door closed and starts his vehicle. "We call on the community to join us in peaceful protest of this unjust result".

Prosecutors and the defense agree that Officer Ray Tensing shot 43-year-old Sam DuBose in the head after pulling him over for a missing front license plate on July 19, 2015. It's unclear whether prosecutors would try the case again, the Associated Press reports. After that trial, the dashboard-camera footage was revealed to the public that showed Castille informing the officer he was armed and reaching for his wallet when the officer starting firing.

Asserting the video did not definitively prove the prosecution's arguments about whether Tensing was dragged, Mathews reminded the jury of "Sully", the 2009 movie about airline pilot Chesley Sullenberger who became a hero by making an emergency landing on the Hudson River with no loss of life.

"Video may give us some insight on that, but it doesn't change the fundamental standard by which police actions using force are judged", said David A. Harris, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on police use of force.

The Hamilton County jury had deliberated some 30 hours over five days after getting the case Monday. But many times, it does not put enough of the facts beyond dispute. It's also among cases that show the difficulties prosecutors face in gaining convictions against police for on-duty shootings.