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After mistrial, prosecutors say they will retry former University of Cincinnati police officer charged with murder

Raymond Tensing arrives at court during deliberations earlier this month. (John Minchillo/AP)

Authorities in Ohio said Tuesday that they would make another attempt at trying a former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man during a traffic stop in Cincinnati last year.

A judge had declared a mistrial earlier this month in the first prosecution of former University of Cincinnati officer Raymond Tensing, saying that the jury was deadlocked after deliberations.

Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph T. Deters, who was sharply critical of Tensing when the officer was charged with murder and manslaughter last year, said Tuesday that he had made the decision to retry Tensing for the death of Samuel DuBose.

“This decision was made after review of the trial transcript, discussion with some of the jurors, and consultation with my staff,” Deters said in a statement. “I am hopeful that a second jury will be able to reach a decision to bring justice in this case for the victim’s family and our community.”

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After the mistrial was declared earlier this month, Deters said that jurors were leaning toward convicting Tensing of voluntary manslaughter, a lesser charge, and acquitting him on the murder charge. Ultimately, the jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.

A spokeswoman for Deters confirmed to The Washington Post that he intended to prosecute Tensing again on the murder and manslaughter charges. If convicted, Tensing could face up to life in prison.

Deters also said during a news conference Tuesday that he intended to seek a change of venue for the new trial.

An attorney for Tensing, who had previously said he hoped the case did not go to a second trial, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Deters’s decision was “no surprise, but Ray is disappointed.”

In a statement, Jay McDonald, president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio, said he was also “disappointed” by the decision to seek another trial. He also alluded to a recent spate of fatal shootings of law enforcement officers, most recently a San Antonio detective gunned down outside police headquarters on the same day two other officers were also shot in apparent ambushes.

“As a fellow police officer, I’m concerned about the dangerous precedent that this case could have on other officers who might hesitate in amoment when decision-making is literally life or death,” McDonald said. “This is especially meaningful at a time when police are being targeted and assassinated at a shocking rate.”

Tensing had stopped DuBose during an off-campus traffic stop in July 2015 for failing to display his front license plate. Tensing had said he was forced to shoot DuBose during the encounter because he was being dragged by the car, according to the initial police report.

But video footage captured by the officer’s body camera showed that Tensing appeared to thrust the gun into the car and fire after DuBose had started the engine but while the car was still standing still.

Mistrial for officer who killed a black man while wearing Confederate flag shirt

Deters had assailed Tensing for the killing, describing it as a “senseless, asinine shooting” during a news conference on the day the officer was charged.

“It was so unnecessary for this to occur,” Deters said at the news conference. His office had reviewed more than 100 police shootings by that point, Deters said, and the DuBose killing was “the first time that we’ve thought, ‘This is without question a murder.’”

DuBose was one of 991 people fatally shot by police last year, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking these shootings.

Officers who shoot people in the line of duty are rarely charged, but that number has increased in recent years during intense nationwide scrutiny on how police officers use force. Video footage has increasingly been a factor in shootings that lead to charges.

Police are on pace to fatally shoot about as many people in 2016 as they did in 2015

Between 2005 and 2014, 48 officers were charged for shootings, according to Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio who studies arrests of officers.

Tensing is one of 30 officers who have been charged with murder or manslaughter for an on-duty shooting since the beginning of 2015.

During the trial, prosecutors revealed that during the shooting, Tensing, a white police officer, was wearing a T-shirt with a Confederate battle flag on it. Cincinnati had been the site of riots, looting and protests after a white officer killed an unarmed black man in 2001, which prompted a Justice Department review of the city’s police force and a series of reforms.

The University of Cincinnati said earlier this year it would pay $4.85 million to DuBose’s family in a settlement.

Last week, prosecutors in Minnesota said they were charging a police officer in a Twin Cities suburb with second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting a man during a July traffic stop there. The prosecutor who announced the charges said he opted for second-degree manslaughter, rather than a first-degree or murder charge, because he believed it was “the highest, most provable offense.”

This story, first published at 11:59 a.m., has been updated with additional information.

Further reading:

The Washington Post’s database of police shootings this year

Thousands dead, few prosecuted: Most officers charged are cleared or acquitted