Cincinnati trial judge Megan Shanahan declared a mistrial on Saturday after the jury declared that it was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on murder and manslaughter charges in a case involving the shooting of the unarmed Samuel DuBose, a black man, by white Police Officer Raymond Tensing in July 2015. Shanahan previously encouraged the jury to reach a verdict stating that there was sufficient evidence to decide the case, but accepted the jury’s deadlock status [NPR report] after nearly three days of deliberations. The jury had made several requests for transcripts and advice including on questions regarding the definitions of “under arrest” and “resisting arrest.” On Friday, the third day of deliberations, after more requests for advice, Shanahan sent the jury back to deliberate telling them that they had all the instructions they needed to reach a verdict in the case and that “It would be improper for the court to elaborate further.” Tensing was facing a potential life in prison sentence on the murder charge and a maximum 11-year sentence on the manslaughter charge.
Tensing stopped DuBose for a missing front license plate, moments later after which, he shot him at point-blank range. [NPR report]. Evidence from body-cam footage of the shooting showed a brief struggle between the two before Tensing shot DuBose. After watching the footage, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters stated at the time of Tensing’s indictment [WVXU report]: “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years … It was the purposeful killing of a person. That’s what makes it murder.” The development has surfaced amid a national conversation about police use of force, particularly against black citizens, and subsequent retaliation. In a press conference held in July in Washington, DC, Attorney General Loretta Lynch [official profile] gave her response to a police shooting in Dallas during a peaceful protest. Lynch stated [JURIST report] that the DOJ, including the FBI, ATF, and US Marshals Service and US Attorneys Office were conducting an investigation into the Dallas shooting. In May Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards [official website] signed into law an amended hate crimes bill [JURIST report], referred to as the “Blue Lives Matter” law, including police, EMS personnel and firefighters in the category of those protected. The bill has drawn the contempt of some civil rights groups, including the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Earlier this year the DOJ launched an investigation [JURIST report] of the San Francisco Police Department following the shooting of an unarmed African American.