Tensing jury mulls different versions of DuBose shooting - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Tensing jury mulls different versions of DuBose shooting

Tensing watches as his attorney delivers closing arguments. (Cincinnati Enquirer) Tensing watches as his attorney delivers closing arguments. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) -

The fate of Ray Tensing is now in the hands of the jury.

Twelve men and women must decide if the former University of Cincinnati police officer is guilty or innocent of murder or voluntary manslaughter in the shooting death of Samuel DuBose during a July 2015 traffic stop.

Prosecutors did not ask in closing arguments Monday for Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Leslie Ghiz to reconsider their request to add the lesser charge of reckless homicide.

Tensing retrial judge rejects prosecution request for lesser charge

The judge read jurors their instructions shortly after noon before dismissing them to deliberations behind closed doors.

They did not come to a verdict and were dismissed around 4:15 p.m. to be sequestered overnight. 

The judge asked jurors to return at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The alternate jurors are not permitted in the jury room. They will only replace a juror if needed.

To convict Tensing of murder, jurors must decide that he purposely killed DuBose. Murder carries a possible sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

To find Tensing guilty of voluntary manslaughter, the jury would have to conclude DuBose was killed during sudden passion or a fit of rage, carrying a possible prison sentence of three to 11 years.

Monday morning, Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger wrapped up closing arguments after jurors heard two very different versions from Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid and Tensing's lawyer, Stew Mathews.

Tieger told jurors Tensing's own body camera footage disproves his version of events.

"That video has no bias, that video has no feelings, he said. "His own body cam video exposed him as a liar."

Tensing lied to the jury to "save himself."

Tieger told the jury they must consider the murder charge first, and then the voluntary manslaughter charge if they can't convict Tensing of murder.

Tensing, he said, "just lost control and acted instinctively" without time to really really think about DuBose's non-compliance.

DuBose had slammed his car door shut and re-started the vehicle, Tieger said.

DuBose angered Tensing by going against him as the officer tried to ID DuBose and was about to handcuff him.

"All that is classic manslaughter. It's a slam dunk of count 2," Tiger said.

Tensing also showed no concern for DuBose. He did not cry during  his interview with police investigators as he explained what happened. He saved those tears for the jury.

“There is no remorse. There is no ‘oh my god what did I do?'" Tieger said. "It is all very cold and very antiseptic. There was no regard for Mr. DuBose in anyway. He was not treated as a human being. He was treated as a crime scene."

Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid pointed at the body cam footage as she talked about the defense expert witnesses, trying to discredit them.

"I submit the evidence has shown that on July19th, 2015, the defendant was not in danger of physical harm," she said.

She told the jurors Tensing created the situation by lunging into Tensing's car.

The body camera footage shows DuBose's car had not moved at 1.059 seconds before Tensing fired the shot that killed DuBose, she said.

"The defendant was not being dragged up the road," DeGraffenreid told jurors.

Then she played Tensing's taped statement to Cincinnati police investigators a few days after the shooting as Tensing looked down.

She reminded the jury DuBose's car did not move until .4 seconds before the shot was fired.

She suggested Tensing was trained to say key words during his police statement: "feared for my life" and "stop the threat."

"There's no evidence to show his arm was trapped" in DuBose's vehicle, she said.

She asked the jurors to use common sense and work together to reach a decision: that Tensing is a murderer.

"We ask that once you work through all the evidence, once you look at everything, you come back and you find that defendant, Raymond Tensing, guilty of murder," she told the jurors.

In his closing remarks, Tensing's attorney, Stew Mathews, said not a day has gone by that Tensing hasn't thought about the shooting.

"This case is a terrible tragedy for everyone involved," he said.

Tensing took the stand in his own defense Friday, testifying through tears for more than two hours.

Tensing testifies: 'I shot him to stop the threat'

Tensing has never denied he intentionally shot DuBose, Mathews said, but it is justified.

Tensing was hired at UCPD at a time when crime was up around campus and police were under orders from their chief to go out and make proactive stops, Mathews said. Acting on orders from higher-ups at UC, the UCPD chief wanted officers to be visible to show crime wouldn't be tolerated near campus.

So when Tensing saw a Honda Accord without a front license plate - which is illegal in the state of Ohio - he followed it and ran the plate, Mathews said.

He pulled the car over when that check determined the plates were registered to a driver whose license was suspended.

"Ray Tensing was doing what he was instructed to do on July 19," Mathews told jurors.

Mathews talked for several minutes about the traffic stops Tensing performed before he stopped DuBose.

In all of them, Mathews noted, Tensing was professional and courteous, even making sure to adjust the air conditioning in his cruiser so a motorist he detained was comfortable despite the blazing July heat.

"There's no evidence up to this point that he showed he was in anything but a fine mood," Mathews told jurors.

If Tensing's intention was to kill DuBose, he wouldn't have turned on his body camera, Mathews said.

At the same time, DuBose's behavior during the traffic stop raised "all kinds of red flags," he said.

That included DuBose having a gin bottle filled with air freshener on the floor of the car.

DuBose handed it to Tensing when the officer asked him about it.

Tensing put the bottle on the roof of the car, planning to come back to it once he identified DuBose, who still had not produced identification.

Mathews conceded Tensing was wrong to reach into DuBose's car, but the officer thought he was close enough to knock the keys from the ignition.

"That was a mistake that Ray made, no question about it, but every police officer who testified here this 'never, never, never reach into the vehicle' is a myth. Officers do it all the time," Mathews said.

He also pointed out that Tensing is heard on his body camera footage yelling "Stop! Stop!" 

"Why would anybody yell 'Stop! Stop!' at a car that wasn't moving?" he asked the jurors. "I think you can infer at that point the car was beginning to move and the officer felt his life was at threat."

Tensing's story has not changed since the shooting, Mathews said. 

Tensing has said since "day one he fired to stop the threat," Mathews told jurors. 

The prosecution's own video expert even testified DuBose's car moved before the shot was fired, Mathews said, though Mathews added he disagreed with that expert by how much.

DuBose made up his mind he "wasn't going to sit around" as soon as Tensing turned on his police lights, Mathews said.

He noted that a coroner's official who took the stand for the prosecution testified he only tested some of the four bags of marijuana found in DuBose car, not all of them. Mathews said jurors were unable then to get a full accounting of the drug DuBose actually had on him during the traffic stop.

DuBose knew Tensing likely would find that marijuana and $2,600 in cash in his car, which would have sent DuBose to the county jail with a felony drug charge, Mathews said.

Tensing couldn't de-escalate the situation because his arm was pinned in the car as DuBose drove off, Mathews said.

He also walked jurors through the elements of murder and voluntary manslaughter.

But he said Tensing had no intent or sudden fit of passion required to convict him of voluntary manslaughter or murder.

Mathews said Tensing felt his life was at threat, and once the judge explained the law in this case, he felt jurors would find Tensing was justified in the actions he took.

"Ray Tensing's purpose was to stop the threat," Mathews said.

The case, he said, comes down to "20/20 hindsight" on seconds from Tensing's body camera footage then broken down in milliseconds.

"The body camera footage is not the only piece of evidence in this case," Mathews said.

"You have to put yourself in Ray Tensing's place. I think, ladies and gentleman, if you do all of that, you are going to find that Ray Tensing's actions were justified, that he was a reasonable police officer and you will have no choice but to find him not guilty of murder and voluntary manslaughter."

In his final remarks, Mathews evoked the testimony of one of the prosecution's witnesses who he says was "the lead investigator" on DuBose's shooting, Cincinnati police Sgt. Shannon Heine.

During cross examination, Mathews asked Heine if it's the role of police to recommend whether criminal charges should be filed.

She responded that in police-involved shootings, prosecutors determine the legality of the actions taken by the officer.

"Do you give some input in that?" Mathews asked her.

"Yes, sir," Heine said.

"Did you do that in this case?"

"Not too much," she answered.

"Well, what does not too much mean?"

One of the prosecutors objected, but the judge overruled, permitting Heine to answer.

In a slightly trembling voice, Heine testified: "Based on my time and training in internal investigations, I thought I was looking at an officer-involved shooting where his actions may be determined to be justified based on the events surrounding the actual shooting."

Heine also testified she didn't find anything in Tensing's statement to her that was inconsistent with what she knew about the case.

Mathews told jurors her testimony "hit the nail on the head."

But prosecutors criticized Heine in their final remarks before the jury took the case.

Tieger described her as inexperienced and said she gave Tensing "easy question after easy question" with the intent of never charging him with a crime.

“When she said, ‘It’s just a formality,’” Tieger told jurors, "what she meant was, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to get what you want.’”

He also suggested Heine showed her fellow officer special treatment.

"Was this the good ol’ boy network kicking in?” Tieger asked. “Is this how they would have treated anybody else who wasn't an officer?"

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