CINCINNATI (AP) – Jurors appeared to struggle Friday as they deliberated in the murder trial of a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man during a traffic stop.
The panel ended its third day weighing charges against University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing before asking to be dismissed and return Saturday.
Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan granted the request after twice telling jurors during the day they had all the information needed to reach a verdict against Tensing, who was fired after shooting Sam DuBose in July 2015.
The judge’s first instructions came around noon, when jurors told Shanahan they couldn’t come to a unanimous verdict on murder or voluntary manslaughter charges against Tensing, who killed the 43-year-old DuBose near the University of Cincinnati.
Shanahan advised them to keep working. She didn’t grant a request by Tensing’s attorney to declare a mistrial.
Late in the afternoon, Shanahan briefly convened the jury, then deflected their question about the definition of arrest and ordered them back to work.
The question related to conditions under which DuBose could have been considered to be evading arrest. Shanahan said it would be inappropriate for her to answer.
The sequestered jury of 10 whites and two blacks got the case at noontime Wednesday.
Tensing, 26, has said he feared for his life when DuBose dragged him with his car while trying to drive away.
Authorities, downtown businesses and schools have been monitoring developments closely. Some businesses released employees early Thursday and at least two schools closed in anticipation of a verdict that could bring strong reactions.
Police and emergency response agencies activated their regional operations center to monitor and share information about any violence. Before the trial began, city officials met with civil rights and faith leaders. The city was hit by riots in 2001 after a fatal police shooting of an unarmed black youth.
This case has attracted demonstrators, including Black Lives Matter activists, outside the Hamilton County courthouse, and is among other shootings across the country that have raised debate about how police treat black people.
Prosecutors want jurors to find that Tensing “purposely” killed DuBose for the murder charge. They also have the option of convicting Tensing of voluntary manslaughter, meaning he killed DuBose in a fit of rage or sudden passion after being provoked.
The prosecution said evidence including Tensing’s own body camera video contradicted his story of being dragged by DuBose’s car.
Tensing testified he didn’t target black drivers, wasn’t racist and that a 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 Tensing’s attorney described as a reason why he was desperate to flee.