Sam Dubose family hires Zimmerman attorney - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Sam Dubose family hires Zimmerman attorney

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

Sam Dubose's family has retained the same lawyer who defended George Zimmerman in the trial of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

Mark O’Mara of Orlando is a nationally known criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst.

"The family is obviously in shock," O'Mara told FOX19 NOW Monday. "This was not supposed to happen.  Nobody anticipates a tragedy like this."

One of Dubose's relatives contacted O'Mara for his services.  He said he is not licensed to practice in Ohio, but there are ways for him to legally do so anyway. He said he plans to work with local attorneys.

O'Mara and two members of his legal team, a spokesman for the firm and his legal assistant, flew to the Tri-State Monday to being work on the case, They met with the family on the eve of Dubose's funeral.  

Dubose's family is determined that his death not be in vain.

O'Mara's appearance is a big indication of that.

"Adding this name into the mix does kind of ratchet it up a little bit. He's got national exposure for a case that really rubbed some feelings raw,”
said FOX19 NOW legal analyst Mike Allen.  “A person with his stature, and with his exposure can be helpful to the family in that type of situation.  However, I have seen situations where it’s backfired, too.  Some big name blows into town and thinks he can boss around the prosecutor and the judge, and it blows up in his face. I’m certain after watching him in the Zimmerman trial, he knows what he’s doing, and won’t let that happen.”

O’Mara represented Zimmerman when he was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin at a 2013 trial. This time, he’s flipping the script
and said he is representing the victim.

"The family wants two things.  First, they want dignity for themselves and for Sam and his death, and they want transparency. They want to know what happened to what happened to him - first the 'what,' and then the, 'why,’” O’Mara said.
           
Achieving that, O'Mara says, will be part of his job for the Dubose family.

"If there is a criminal case where the officer, for example, is charged with a crime, they have rights as a victim - victim's representatives.  I'll be representing them to make sure those rights are protected,” he said.

O'Mara says he plans to meet with local leaders, including Prosecutor Joe Deters - to talk about the case, and the unreleased video from Officer Ray Tensing's university-issued body camera.

"My review of the Ohio statute suggests that it could easily be released.  I want to talk to him about that possibility - how it's going to happen, when it's going to happen,” O’Mara said.

Tensing shot and killed Dubose during a July 19 traffic stop in Mt. Auburn.

Deters has refused to release the footage because he said it would hurt his investigation and could taint the grand jury process.  He said he expects to complete his investigation  and present findings to the grand jury by the end of this week.  He has said the footage will be released at some point, "just not right now."

In a statement earlier on Monday, O’Mara maintains releasing the video will not interfere with the legal process.

"This type of tragedy has become too common. There is a troubling pattern in these police shootings, and the public has a clear interest in these cases," O'Mara said. "I know there is a concern about the officer's right to a fair trial, but I've been a criminal defense attorney for 30 years, and have tried high-profile cases, and can tell you that releasing the video will not prevent Officer Tensing from getting due process.”

"Lawyers (have) been able to seat a jury in the Boston bombing case, the Aurora theater shooting and the Zimmerman case -- despite trial publicity," he said. "And what about Samuel's rights?  What about the larger social justice concerns?

"Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters has a choice regarding whether or not to disclose the video. Since Samuel's record has already been disclosed, and since the incident report and the 911 call has already been released, common sense and compassion should inform his decision about releasing the body camera footage."

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