CINCINNATI (AP) — Jurors deliberated a second day without reaching a verdict Thursday in the murder trial of a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man during a traffic stop last year.
Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan said jurors asked to hear testimony read back from expert witnesses on both sides about police use of deadly force, so transcripts were being prepared. Since-fired University of Cincinnati police Officer Ray Tensing, 26, has said he feared for his life when Sam DuBose, 43, tried to drive away after he pulled him over near campus for a missing front license plate July 19, 2015.
The judge had the jury of 10 whites and two blacks sequestered a second night. They got the case at noontime Wednesday.
Tensions rose Thursday over anticipation of a verdict and the potential reaction to it. Dozens of demonstrators showed up outside the Hamilton County courthouse late in the afternoon before Shanahan’s announcement that deliberations would resume Friday morning. The courthouse would normally be closed Friday for Veterans Day.
Police and emergency agencies were on alert, and a regional operations center was activated.
At least two Roman Catholic schools in Cincinnati were closed Thursday, and a Cincinnati Public Schools spokeswoman said the district was in constant communication with authorities. Cincinnati police sent an advisory to downtown businesses urging them to review their emergency plans and monitor trial developments.
“Out of an abundance of caution and to ensure the safety of our workforce, we advised workers at the downtown facilities in the central business district they could leave early today,” Sally Thelen of Duke Energy, among the businesses that released workers early, said via email.
Ahead of the trial, city officials met with civil rights and faith leaders. The city was hit by riots in 2001 after the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black youth.
The case has attracted demonstrators, including Black Lives Matter activists, and is among others across the nation that have raised debate about how police treat black people.
Prosecutors want jurors to conclude Tensing “purposely” killed DuBose. They also have the option of convicting Tensing of voluntary manslaughter, meaning he shot DuBose in the head in a fit of rage or sudden passion after being provoked.
The prosecution said evidence, including Tensing’s body camera video, contradicts his story of being dragged by DuBose’s car.
“The video is the ultimate witness; … this video exposes Tensing’s lies,” Prosecutor Joe Deters said during closing arguments.
But defense attorney Stewart Mathews insisted Tensing was trying to keep from being run over by a car being used as “a deadly weapon’ against him.
“He was in sheer terror,” Mathews told jurors.
Deters told jurors Wednesday that “emotions are high,” but they must decide based on the facts.
Tensing wept on the stand Tuesday. He said his arm was stuck in DuBose’s car at the time and the car was turning toward him. He denied targeting blacks or being racist and said the Confederate flag on a T-shirt he wore under his uniform that day had no meaning to him.
Witnesses testified that DuBose had significant amounts of marijuana and cash on him, which Mathews said was a reason why he was desperate to flee.