An Ohio judge was forced to declare a mistrial on Saturday after a deadlocked jury failed to reach a consensus in the case of Ray Tensing, the former University of Cincinnati police officer accused of murder and manslaughter in the death of unarmed black motorist Sam DuBose. Tensing, 26, who is white, fatally shot DuBose during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate in 2015.
Libby Cunningham of local television station WCPO tweeted that the Hamilton County jury — made up of 10 whites and two blacks — had leaned toward acquittal on the murder charges Tensing faces and toward conviction on the voluntary manslaughter charges.
Jurors deliberated for four days before failing to reach a verdict. If convicted of murder, Tensing could face 15 years to life in prison, CBS News reports.
Tensing, who had been fired from the university police force after the shooting, was in "sheer terror" for his life after he encountered the 43-year-old DuBose, his defense attorney said in closing statements. Stewart Mathews, Tensing's attorney, told jurors the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office had not proven his client murdered DuBose on purpose or in a fit of sudden passion.
Initially, Tensing claimed he shot DuBose while he was being dragged by the man's car. But evidence presented by state Prosecutor Joe Deters, including the officer's own body camera and witness testimony, ran counter to the former officer's claim.
Tensing's case will now be kicked back to prosecutors, who can decide to either retry or dismiss it, NBC News reports.
The shooting happened amid nationwide protests over the police-involved deaths of black motorists — including demonstrations led by the Movement for Black Lives. Some activists reacted to the news of the hung jury with anger over social media.