CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Prosecutors said on Tuesday they will retry a fired former University of Cincinnati police officer on charges of murdering an unarmed black motorist after his first trial ended in a mistrial earlier this month, and will seek a change of venue.
Body-camera video of the July 2015 incident showed then-officer Ray Tensing, 27, shooting Samuel DuBose, 43, in the head during a traffic stop after pulling over DuBose for a missing front license plate on his vehicle.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters told a news conference he would seek a new venue for the retrial because the considerable public attention given the case in Cincinnati had “seeped” into the jury room.
“After careful consideration, I have decided that the Tensing case will be retried. The decision was made after review of the trial transcript, discussion with some of the jurors and consultation with my staff,” Deters said in a written statement.
“I am very hopeful that a second jury will be able to reach a decision to bring justice in this case for the victim’s family and our community.”
Tensing’s attorney, Stew Mathews, said he was not surprised with the decision for a retrial.
“The shooting was justified because he (Tensing) feared for his life,” Mathews said.
“The facts aren’t changed just because we are going to have another trial, so yes, that’s our defense.”
The jury of six white men, four white women and two black women failed on Nov. 12 to reach a verdict on whether Tensing was guilty of charges of murder or voluntary manslaughter, prompting the judge to declare a mistrial.
Deters said a change in venue was necessary.
“We hit a point in this trial, if you recall, where the jurors wouldn’t even come out of the jury room,” Deters said.
“We had a revolt going on in the jury room at one point, because they were afraid that their names would be known. If we moved to another jurisdiction, I don’t think the jurors would care.”
During the traffic stop Tensing asked DuBose to remove his seatbelt and tried to open the car door. DuBose did not comply and closed the door. The vehicle started rolling forward slowly as Tensing pulled his gun and fired once.
Tensing was fired from the University of Cincinnati Police Department after being indicted in July 2015. He pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond.
Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham