Hamilton County, Ohio, Judge Leslie Ghiz delayed jury selection Tuesday in the retrial of Ray Tensing, the police officer who shot Sam Dubose during a 2015 traffic stop.
After Ghiz severely restricted media access to the trial, an Ohio appeals court granted a request filed by the Associated Press and other news outlets to block the judge’s order limiting the number of reporters in the courtroom and outlawing recording devices. Ghiz put the jury selection on hold until the appeals court has a full hearing on Wednesday, according to AP.
Until then, here is what you need to know about the upcoming trial:
What happened? On July 19, 2015, University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing pulled Dubose over for not having a front license plate. Bodycam footage shows that Tensing spoke to Dubose for around a minute about a bottle on the floor of the car and repeatedly asked Dubose for his driver’s license. Tensing then asked Dubose to take his seat belt off and tried to open the door, but Dubose pulled it closed again and started the car. The officer reached in the car and grabbed Dubose.
Then he shot Dubose in the head.
Why, though? Because he could. Because the car rolled (although it never moved in the direction of the officer). Because he “feared for his life.” Because that’s what cops do.
Because in 2015—the year this incident happened—the grand total of cops convicted for an on-duty shooting was zero, so why not?
What happened in the first trial? After 25 hours of deliberation, a jury of 10 whites and two blacks ended up deadlocked. Four jurors thought that Tensing was guilty of murder; four thought he was guilty of manslaughter; and apparently four jurors eschewed the laws of physics and believed that a car rolling forward (away from the officer) would suddenly move backward, or believed that Tensin’s gun unholstered itself, jumped into the officer’s hand, put itself to Dubose’s head and spit a bullet into his skull at point-blank range all by itself.
What was Tensing’s defense in the first trial? Of course Tensing used the old “feared for my life” defense, which has proved effective in freeing noted killers such as Officer Darren Wilson, who never faced a trial after he shot unarmed teen Mike Brown from 148 feet away in Ferguson, Mo.; Michael Slager, who was rewarded with a mistrial after shooting Walter Scott in the back in North Charleston, S.C., as Scott ran in the opposite direction; and Officer Betty Shelby, who is back at work after she pumped bullets into Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Okla., as he walked away from her with his hands up and back turned.
Tensing’s argument was that he reached into Dubose’s car and his arm got trapped. He testified that he fell and was afraid that he would be dragged, so he used the most effective way to stop a moving car: shooting the driver in the head.
Seems legit. Why don’t you believe him? Because it is a verifiable fact that Tensing and the other officers in the case are liars.
On the day of the shooting, local news outlets reported that Tensing’s initial police report mentioned a struggle between him and Dubose, a charge disproved by the bodycam footage that shows Dubose had his hands up when the officer reached in the car and shot him.
Two UC officers arrived on the scene as Tensing was reaching into Dubose’s car. Both officers said that they witnessed Tensing being dragged.
They changed their stories after the video was released, but were never charged with falsifying the police report, according to The Guardian. An expert witness testified in court that Tensing was never dragged and that the car did not move until Tensing shot Dubose.
Video evidence, two cops on the scene and a forensic crime-scene expert say that Tensing had no reason to fear for his life. The only person on earth who says Ray Tensing was in danger is Ray Tensing.
What’s the deal with the shirt everyone is talking about? When Tensing assassinated Dubose, Tensing was wearing a “Great Smoky Mountains” T-shirt with a Confederate flag emblazoned on it, because ... judgment. Because of course, Ohio was part of the Confeder—oh, wait; no, it wasn’t.
The judge in the case has ruled that the shirt will not be allowed into evidence because the fact that the officer had an emblem of white supremacy emblazoned across his chest is not an important fact in why he murdered an unarmed black man.
Will Tensing get off in the second trial? Unfortunately, the management of The Root still refuses to hire an on-staff soothsayer, so one can make only an educated guess by weighing the facts:
On the one hand, there’s a public servant sworn to protect his community who, evidence shows, shot an unarmed man at point-blank range who showed no signs of aggression. There is no evidence that the officer’s life was ever in danger.
On the other hand, there is a white cop who shot a black man. Here is a partial list of cops who killed unarmed black men and what happened to them:
- Betty Shelby shot unarmed Terence Crutcher and was reinstated.
- Darren Wilson shot Mike Brown but was never indicted.
- Daniel Pantaleo choked Eric Garner to death on video, never faced a trial and still works for the New York City Police Department.
- Sean Williams and David Darkow shot John Crawford in an Ohio Wal-Mart, but a grand jury declined to send the case to trial.
- Timothy McGinty shot 12-year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. McGinty was never charged with a crime.
- Mark Rine killed Rumain Brisbon in Phoenix when he mistook Brisbon’s pill bottle for a gun. Rine was not charged.
- Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officers William Porter, Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were responsible for the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. None were convicted.
- Detectives Michael Oliver, Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper shot Sean Bell in New York City over 50 times and were acquitted of all charges.
Will Ray Tensing walk away after killing Sam Dubose in cold blood for no reason?