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Attorney for Ohio police officer in shooting wants victim's medical records

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CINCINNATI (Reuters) - The attorney for a former University of Cincinnati officer charged with murdering a black Ohio man during a traffic stop wants to review the victim’s medical records to see if any illnesses might explain why Samuel DuBose tried to drive away.

Stew Mathews, the attorney for Ray Tensing, said in court on Wednesday that he wants to see the medical records for DuBose. Mathews later told reporters DuBose was hospitalized last year, including prior to the July shooting.

Mathews declined to discuss DuBose’s medical condition further with reporters after Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Megan Shanahan granted his request.

Body camera video of the traffic stop showed DuBose was shot in the head by Tensing after he was pulled over for a missing front license plate on his vehicle.

Mathews has said Tensing feared being dragged under the car as DuBose tried to drive away. Outside the courtroom on Wednesday, Mathews said the medical records may “explain why (DuBose) left the scene in a hurry.”

During the traffic stop, DuBose attempted to prevent the officer from opening the car door before the car started slowly rolling forward. Tensing, who is white, pulled his gun and fired once.

Use of lethal force by police, especially by white officers against unarmed blacks and other minorities, has been the focus of nationwide protests, and the killing of DuBose fueled demonstrations.

Tensing has pleaded not guilty to murder and voluntary manslaughter charges and is free on $1 million bond. His trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 24. If convicted, Tensing could face a life sentence.

An independent report on the shooting released last September called it “entirely preventable.” [nL1N11H1BR]

Reporting by Ginny McCabe; Editing by Ben Klayman nd Steve Orlofsky