WCPO EXCLUSIVE: Prosecutor Joe Deters answers questions about Kim, Tensing videos

Did Deters prevent riot? Mayor said yes

> WATCH Tanya O'Rourke's exclusive interview with Joe Deters in the video player above. It runs 18 1/2 minutes.

CINCINNATI – Did Prosecutor Joe Deters prevent a riot by releasing the body cam video of a white police officer shooting an unarmed black motorist?

Some people think so. Mayor John Cranley apparently did.

In an exclusive interview with WCPO's Tanya O'Rourke on Wednesday,  Deters revealed a conversation he had with Cranley after releasing the shooting video last month.

"Right after it happened I talked to the mayor … and he said to me, 'I think you might have stopped a riot.' And I said, 'John, that might be true, but that's not why I did this.'

"I did it because it was the right thing to do. I did this because we believe he intentionally shot him in the head."

WATCH the Tensing-DuBose video.

Deters found himself in the national spotlight after his damning public criticism of UC Officer Ray Tensing's shooting of Sam DuBose during a traffic stop in Mount Auburn, as well as Deters'  initial opposition to releasing the body cam video. Now Deters finds himself under fire in the media again for saying he won't release the cruiser cam video that reportedly shows Cincinnati Officer Sonny Kim's dying moments as he lay in the street after being shot in an ambush in Madisonville.

Deters told O'Rourke he's following the law by withholding the videos until a grand jury completes its investigation. Even then, he said he won't release the Kim video unless a judge orders him. In both cases, he said he's also following the wishes of the victims' families. 

Before Deters released the Tensing video, Deters said he showed the video to DuBose's family and got his mother's blessing.

"They were crying ... His mother said to me, 'I want [the public] to see this.' I said, 'If you don't want them to see it, I won't show it.' But they wanted them to see it, so that's why we did it."

There's no question that releasing the video calmed tensions in Cincinnati in contrast to other cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland, where rioting followed recent killings of unarmed black men by white police officers.

Deters said he's making the same consideration with the Kim video. Kim's wife recently wrote a letter detailing her deep desire that the video remain private.

 "I have discretion as to whether to release it and I would not be truthful with you if I didn't tell you the feelings of the family are important to me," Deters said.  "Because I think once that video would become public, it would go viral. His little kids would be able to watch that on the internet everywhere for the rest of their lives."

Deters said he had not seen the Kim video.

"No. We just got it yesterday," he told O'Rourke.

O'Rourke: "Have you heard what's on the video?"

Deters: "Yes."

O'Rourke: "And what have you heard?"

Deters: "I heard it's ... gruesome."

The family of Trepierre Hummons, who killed Kim and turned his gun on another CPD officer who then shot and killed Hummons, has also asked Deters not to release the video.

Deters insists dash and body cam videos - unlike police reports and 911 calls - are not public record and wants the Ohio Supreme Court to rule.

"I want some direction here. I want to know because this isn't going to stop. As body cams become more prevalent … dash cams, I want to know," he said.

Deters said part of the reason he originally refused to release the Tensing video was because Tensing was still making statements to police. Deters revealed to O'Rourke that Tensing had already seen a version of the video.

"He saw a very grainy copy of it," Deters said. "He tried to look at it at the hospital, I understand. He didn't see much of it."

Deters said he will personally try the Tensing case because he feels it's that important.

"I think people need to see how serious we take this," he said.

He said DuBose's family cried when he told them the grand jury findings and he won't forget it.

"I told them the grand jury had decided to charge [Tensing] with murder and voluntary manslaughter and they couldn't believe it. I think they actually thought it was going to be covered up or something," Deters said.

While WCPO and other media outlets vow to sue Deters to view the Kim video, Deters says he's not worried that WCPO would use the video improperly. His concern is what others would do with it.

"Here's the problem: I believe Channel 9 wouldn't run the bad parts. Channel 12, 5,19 – they wouldn't run the bad parts. But when it's a public record, some moron … will get it and it will be all over the Internet. OK?," he said. "I'm not worried about the major media outlets and what they would show. I'm worried about these guys in their mom's basement that do this stuff."

Deters said he recently hired a former Ohio Supreme Court justice, Andrew Douglas, and Douglas supports his stand on public records.

"He wrote basically every open records case in Ohio and we met yesterday and he said, 'This isn't a public record,'" Deters said.

And there was this exchange:

O'Rourke: "The media would say we are watchdogs for the community. We need to assure the community that whatever is on that video does not show something [other than] the story line we've already heard. Would you consider allowing a member from each particular media to come sit [in the prosecutor's office] with no recording devices, watch that video all the way with you and that be the end of it?

Deters: "No. No. We would be waiving our legal position that it's not a public record."

O'Rourke asked Deters if his harsh condemnation of Tensing would prevent the fired officer from getting a fair trial in Hamilton County.

"No. Anybody who knows me knows I do this all the time. I mean, I say what I think," Deters said.

"What happens is when you go to voir dire the jury and you talk to the jurors, everyone thinks – probably because we're so ego-centric – that everyone is paying attention to this stuff. Well, they aren't, and you get jurors who never heard of this case ever, and the ones that have haven't formed an opinion," he said.

"I can't think of a single case – Tracie Hunter, Anthony Kirkland, any of these big high-profile cases – where they moved the jury to another county in my entire career. We've always been able to find a fair jury."

Was it political posturing, O'Rourke asked.

Deters laughed.

"I can tell you this: My comments about the UC police officer have drawn more criticism than I've ever had in my entire career from people who would be politically aligned with me," he said.

Deters said the first pre-trial hearing in the Tensing case is scheduled for Aug. 19. There're no telling how long it will take to go to trial - if it does.

"The timetable will be more dictated by the defense," he said.

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