CINCINNATI (CN) — The fate of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing is in the hands of a jury, as both sides made their closing arguments Wednesday regarding the shooting death of an unarmed black man.
Tensing, who testified on Tuesday, shot and killed Samuel DuBose, 43, in July 2015 during a traffic stop that was initiated because DuBose’s car did not have a front license plate.
Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter. The jury will only consider the manslaughter charge if it acquits Tensing of murder.
Both sides offered thorough analysis of Tensing’s bodycam footage during the week-long trial, and the former officer stuck to his story of being dragged by the car before shooting DuBose.
On Tuesday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters cited eyewitness testimony that Tensing fell back from the car as proof that he was not dragged, but Tensing remained steadfast.
He said it was his “perception … [that he would be] sucked up underneath the car” which led to his decision to shoot DuBose.
Tensing broke down on the stand while recounting the story, but DuBose’s fiancé later told the media, “We were at the Oscars just now… [Tensing] put on tears and put on an act for a jury — only a jury.”
During Wednesday’s closing argument, defense attorney Stu Mathews cited numerous traffic stops made by Tensing the day of the shooting as evidence that he was not “out to kill anyone.”
He urged the jury not to use “20/20 hindsight” to convict Tensing for an action that was justified.
Deters thanked the jury for their service in his final remarks, and reflected on the “unique” nature of the case.
“The emotions are high in this case, and it seems like everyone around has an opinion on it,” he said. “As you sort through this…you will have a clear pathway to getting where you need to be…You can choose to believe or disbelieve anything you want, [but] it is your job to search for the truth.”
Deters reminded the jury that “sympathy has no place in this courtroom or in your deliberations.”
He told jurors that Tensing’s story “just doesn’t cut it.”
Deters then showed still frames from the bodycam and went after the defense.
“The defense has become so comical with their word games. When you intentionally aim a .40 caliber gun at someone’s head … ‘you are now stopping a threat.’ Let’s just cut to the chase,” he said. “Does this look like that fantastical story he told [Tuesday]?… He realizes this junk story can’t hold up in the face of overwhelming evidence. Now it’s just his ‘perception’ that he was dragged.”
While Mathews attempted to rely on Tensing’s character, Deters cited statistics from the UC Police Department to undercut the defense.
He said Tensing issued more citations than any other officer in his department, and also had the largest racial disparity among individuals he cited.
“Don’t leave your common sense at the courthouse steps,” Deters said.
He pointed out that Tensing never testified that he felt remorse for the shooting, and that he was concerned only about saving his own skin.
“Tensing’s tears were not for the life he took,” he said, “They were for the life he was trying to save.”
The prosecutor concluded his remarks by pointing out the inconsistencies between Tensing’s version of events and the bodycam video.
“The video is the ultimate witness,” he said. “This video exposes Tensing’s lies.”
The jury was dismissed by Judge Megan Shanahan to begin deliberations at noon on Wednesday.
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