Mistrial in Tensing Case



Victor: All right, the breaking news out of Ohio, a mistrial has now been declared in the case of a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Africa-American man. Ray Tensing shot Sam DuBose during a traffic stop in July of 2015. Maybe you remember this. It was captured by the officer’s body cam. Now, the officer was charged with murder, a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter possibly as well, but a jury could not come to a decision on this case. Tensing testified that he shot DuBose after he drove away and was dragged by the left arm. Prosecutors disputed that claim. Let’s talk about this. We’ve got back with us attorney Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney. Page, thanks for coming back for this.

Page: Sure.

Victor: Twenty-five hours of deliberation and a lot of this hinged upon the body cam video. So before we start our discussion, I just want people to watch it. I have to warn you at home that what you’re about to watch could be a bit disturbing, but we should watch it. Let’s do that.

Ray: Take your seatbelt off for me.

Sam: I ain’t even do nothing.

Ray: Go ahead and take your seatbelt off. Stop! Stop! [inaudible 00:01:11]. [inaudible 00:01:20].

Male: Shots fired! Shots fired!

Male: [inaudible 00:01:33] Need a medic now!

Ray: [inaudible 00:01:37].

Victor: All right, so that’s the video that’s been at the center of this case. The difficulty that I think anybody understands is that it’s hard to tell exactly what you’re looking at here. The officer says that his arm got caught, he was dragged, and he thought that he was gonna be killed. That’s why he fired.

Page: Right, right. In cases like this, if you have an officer testifying to one set of facts and you cannot definitively disprove it by video, jury’s usually gonna believe the officer. But what happened here is we obviously have a split in the jury. That’s why a mistrial was declared. They could not reach a unanimous verdict. Now, we don’t know if it’s 11 on one side and 1 on the other side, but when they cannot get together and be unanimous on it, the judge ultimately has no choice but to declare a mistrial.

Victor: Twenty-five hours of deliberation before they got to this point. Is that something that you would have expected that it would have gone on for several days before they say, listen, we can’t come to an agreement here?

Page: You know, there’s nothing in black and white about how long a jury must deliberate. The judge usually makes some inquiries. Are you guys making any progress? I know that the judge received a note from the jury saying we are deadlocked and he received that, you know, last week, like on Friday. But the judge doesn’t want to have to retry a case like this, especially one that’s obviously bringing in so much strong feelings on both sides. So the judge is gonna let him keep working as long as they’re making progress. Here, he brought him back in this weekend but apparently they couldn’t make no more progress.

Victor: And I think it’s important to point out here that even in this case we have body cam video, which so many departments across the country, communities are calling for them to have it, a lot of officers would like it as well, but even with this video, still no definitive conclusion on what happened here.

Page: That’s right. And if it’s not clear cut, juries, again, tend to favor law enforcement officers. Whatever you find in a jury, you have to understand that they’re going to come into court with their own set of perceptions, biases, prejudices, and that’s why, as lawyers, we always know that the most important part in a trial is picking the right jury. Here, you obviously had people who saw it differently.

Victor: All right, Page Pate. Thanks for coming in for this breaking news. Again, a mistrial there in Ohio in the murder case of Ray Tensing who shot fatally back in 2015, in July of that month, Sam DuBose. We’ll continue to follow what comes out of that. Page, thank you.


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