Mistrial for white Ohio cop who killed unarmed black man | News | DW | 24.06.2017
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Mistrial for white Ohio cop who killed unarmed black man

A second jury was deadlocked over the case of a white police officer who killed an unarmed black man in what started as a routine traffic stop. Many say Ray Tensing's killing of Sam DuBose fits a pattern in US policing.

A second jury has been unable to reach a verdict in the case of fired University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. He was charged with murder for killing a black man during what prosecutors described as a routine traffic stop.

The first trial in 2016 ended in a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict. To the dismay of the victim's family and friends, on Friday a second jury panel was similarly divided.

"We are almost evenly split regarding our votes toward a final verdict," the jury announced in a note.

Tensing claimed that the victim, Sam DuBose, tried to flee. A review of police footage showed Tensing in no danger during the July 2015 incident involving the unarmed motorist.

The prosecutor during the first trial, Joseph Deters, had strongly criticized the shooting. "This is the most asinine act I have ever seen a police officer make," he said at the time. "It was totally unwarranted."

Peterson Mingo, a DuBose family spokesman and Cincinnati pastor, appealed for calm after Friday's nonverdict. "Right now, the family wants peace," he told reporters. "The family wants reconciliation."

USA Cincinnati Prozess gegen Ray Tensing Audrey DuBose (picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Owsley)

The victim's mother, Audrey (right), watched jurors in disbelief as the judge declared a mistrial

US police violence

A study released last year by the medical journal BMJ found that encounters with police have become a public health risk for minority communities in the US. Officers in the United States shoot and kill nearly 1,000 people per year. In comparison, Germany, with roughly a quarter the population, sees about 10 people shot and killed by officers annually. 

Many in the United States feel that jurisdictions have done too little to hold police accountable despite video documentation of killings of unarmed black victims in cities such as Oakland, New York and Chicago. Outrage over a frequent reluctance to prosecute and jurors' increasing failure to find officers guilty has sometimes boiled over, leading to protests.

Last week, a Wisconsin jury acquitted Dominique Heaggan-Brown of charges after he killed Sylville Smith, who carried a semiautomatic pistol during a brief foot chase. Also last week in the state of Minnesota, jurors found police officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty of a crime after he killed motorist Philando Castile, whose death was streamed live on Facebook. Six Baltimore officers charged in the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray, who succumbed to spinal cord injuries suffered in the back of a police van, eventually walked; officers arrested the victim after they considered his eye contact suspicious.

On Wednesday, a white officer shot an off-duty black colleague in the city of St. Louis - near Ferguson, where white officer Darren Wilson killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown - when he attempted to assist with an arrest. The white officer had just arrived on the scene of a suspected crime and, according to a police statement, failing to recognize his black colleague and "fearing for his safety," shot him in the arm.

mkg/jlw (AFP, AP)

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