Sam DuBose's family hopeful after closing arguments in Ray Tensing's retrial

CINCINNATI -- As closing arguments wrapped up in the retrial of former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing's retrial Monday, members of Sam DuBose's family said they are hopeful. 

Terina Allen, DuBose’s sister, said she was more satisfied with the prosecution in Tensing's retrial compared to the team led by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters in Tensing's first trial in November. 

“I think this time they went in harder on Tensing,” Allen said. ”I think that was great. I think (the closing arguments) brilliantly tied in the whole trial.”

Closing arguments in the case ended just before 1 p.m. Monday, eight days after the trial began. Tensing is accused of shooting and killing Sam Dubose during a traffic stop in 2015.

Assistant prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid began closing arguments by carefully walking the jury through the charges and highlighting the prosecution testimony about Tensing's body camera video.

DeGraffenreid showed the entire traffic stop again and pointed out where she said it showed Dubose's car wasn’t in motion during most of the stop. She said Tensing wasn’t being dragged and didn’t have his arm stuck in the car, and that Tensing pulled his gun before the car started moving. She said he shot DuBose in the head after it had moved just a few feet.

Assistant prosecutor Seth Tieger attacked a prosecution witness -- Sgt. Shannon Heine -- during closing arguments. He said she gave preferential treatment to Tensing when she interviewed him after the officer fatally shot DuBose.

“I’m most excited that Seth Tieger and Stacey (DeGraffenreid) today. They brought Sam in there as a human being,” Allen said. “(They talked about) what (DuBose) was thinking when that gun was pointed at him.”

Defense attorney Stew Mathews said in his closing statement that DuBose would "never have gotten shot" if he complied with Tensing's request to show his driver's license and unbuckle his seatbelt.

Mathews didn’t play the body camera video and didn't refer to it at length. But he did show the image of Tensing with his right arm cocked at the elbow, his hand holding the gun and pointed downward. Mathews claimed the image is consistent with the assistant coroner's report that Tensing shot downward at DuBose. But it also conflicts with Tensing's claim that he was being dragged and was falling at the time.

Mathews also made a claim that hadn't been in the testimony. He referred to the driveway behind DuBose's car and estimated it was 13 and a half feet wide. He said that was significant because it enabled him to estimate DuBose's car had moved 10 feet in the time before Tensing shot him. His own expert testified the car had moved 5 to 7 feet. Fredericks, the prosecutions' expert, said it was "just a few feet."

Mathews said Tieger interjected race into this case.

“If Ray Tensing was racist, he wouldn’t have fixed the man’s handcuffs,” Mathews said in closing, referring to an earlier traffic stop were Tensing is on video offering a detainee a seat in air conditioning and loosening handcuffs.

Mathews also said that if Tensing went out to initially kill DuBose, he wouldn’t have turned his body camera on.

Allen said she’s not sure about where the jury in this retrial stands. In the last trial, jurors deliberated for 25 hours before the judge declared a mistrial. 

“The reason why I’m so afraid to do anything with the jurors -- I was talking earlier about the Philando Castile case and I thought that case was going to be absolutely guilty,” Allen said. “…If there's a guilty verdict to be gotten, this prosecution just got it. If it is not guilty, I do not think it’s possible (to prosecute an officer). I literally do not think it’s possible. Because I don’t think there’s a better case.”

Outside the court house, a group of more than 20 people with Black Lives Matter Cincinnati gathered as part of a demonstration, calling for the conviction of Tensing.

DuBose’s mother, Audrey, addressed the crowd.

“Our eyes is not deceiving us, we see what we see,” she said. “God blessed us with these eyes, so we could see. So we’ve got to keep going forward. And trust in God, and just stand up for what we believe is right. I thank y’all for y’all's courage.”

She returned hours later to participate in a Jericho Walk -- a peaceful demonstration in which participants circle a building seven times -- alongside local faith leaders who said they hoped to convey a non-denominational message of peace and healing.

"As human beings, we need to learn how to listen to each other with compassion and with curiosity instead of with defensiveness," said the Rev. Alice Connor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

And Audrey DuBose said she believed justice would be served.

"I feel good," she said. "High spirits, sweaty, but that spirit is upon me."

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