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National

Mistrial Declared Again In Case Against Cincinnati Ex-Cop Ray Tensing

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For the third time in a week, a Midwestern jury has chosen not to convict a police officer for shooting and killing a black man. A few days ago, a Milwaukee police officer was acquitted. Last Friday, a Minnesota officer was found not guilty. Today the murder trial of Ray Tensing ended in a hung jury. Tensing, who was white, was a University of Cincinnati campus officer back in 2015 when he shot and killed a black driver, Sam DuBose, during a traffic stop.

We turn now to Tana Weingartner of member station WVXU in Cincinnati for the details of this case. And Tana, can you just start with the key facts for us?

TANA WEINGARTNER, BYLINE: You know, like you said, it was the summer of 2015. The university was pushing their officers to crack down on illegal activity around the urban campus basically to create a no-fly zone for crime. So Tensing pulls over Sam DuBose for a missing front license plate. You have to have a front plate in Ohio. And then when DuBose either will not or cannot provide a driver's license, Tensing starts to open the car door, and then everything just falls apart from there. Dubose pulls the door closed and starts his car. Tensing reaches into the car. And then in a quick, blurry jumble that lasts just a few seconds, Tensing shoots DuBose in the head.

CORNISH: Well, what kind of role does video play in this particular case?

WEINGARTNER: There's the body-camera video that he was wearing. There were experts who broke down the video for both sides. And ultimately it came down to whether the jury believed one expert - believed themselves what the experts told them what they saw in the video because it's just so blurry and so quick that apparently with a mistrial, the jury must have found it inconclusive.

CORNISH: And this is the second time Tensing has been tried on these charges.

WEINGARTNER: That's correct. The prosecutor said at the time that it was murder. That was the only charge that fit. And after the first trial came back with a hung jury, he decided to go again for the same charges.

CORNISH: Was it a case that drew a lot of attention during this time?

WEINGARTNER: There was certainly a lot of attention here in Cincinnati and we presume around the country as well, a lot of people, you know, wondering what might happen because, again, it was the second time and the same charges and no new evidence - all the same evidence as in the first trial.

CORNISH: As we mentioned this week, we've been talking about the trials of other officers in the Midwest. Each has its unique details. What conclusions do you have about what we're looking at in terms of juries?

WEINGARTNER: Well, I think what it shows us is that you have body camera video, but that doesn't mean that you have a conclusive eyewitness to what was there. Juries see different things. Experts see different things. And body camera videos are blurry. They're fast. Incidents, especially like this one, just unfold in literal seconds, you know, especially in this case. One minute, everything seems to be a normal traffic stop. And the next thing you know, there's a gunshot and a car that's crashing into the wall at the other end of the street. And how do you determine what is in those few seconds? And also, you know, juries are just sort of loathe to convict police officers.

CORNISH: Tana Weingartner, thank you.

WEINGARTNER: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF ODESZA AND ZYRA SONG, "SAY MY NAME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.