Judge deflects jury question on arrest definition in trial




CINCINNATI (AP) — A judge on Friday twice told jurors to keep deliberating in the murder trial of a white police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man during a traffic stop.

Late in the afternoon, Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan briefly convened the jury weighing a verdict against Ray Tensing, then deflected their question about the definition of arrest and ordered them back to work.

The question related to conditions under which victim Sam DuBose could have been considered to be evading arrest.

Shanahan told jurors they had all the information they needed to reach a verdict and said it would be inappropriate for her to answer.

Earlier Friday, jurors told Shanahan they couldn't come to a unanimous verdict on murder or voluntary manslaughter charges against the now-fired Tensing, who killed the 43-year-old DuBose near the University of Cincinnati in July 2015.

Shanahan advised them to keep working. She didn't grant a request by Tensing's attorney to declare a mistrial.

Jurors got the case at noontime Wednesday.

The judge sequestered the jury of 10 whites and two blacks for a second night Thursday and brought them back for deliberations Friday. The courthouse would otherwise be closed for the Veterans Day holiday.

Shanahan said jurors requested to review testimony by experts on police use of deadly force. Ray Tensing, 26, has said he feared for his life when Sam 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.

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Associated Press writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.
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