Prosecutor Joe Deters says he can't indict Ray Tensing on lesser charges

'Saying prosecutors overreached, that's idiotic.'
Posted at 1:59 PM, Jul 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 05:33:40-04

CINCINNATI -- Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said he can't indict ex-police officer Ray Tensing on lesser charges for killing Sam DuBose, contrary to commentary from local media.

Deters told 700 WLW's Bill Cunningham that the decision to bring lesser charges against Tensing was considered nearly two years ago. Common Pleas Court Judge John "Skip" West reviewed evidence of the case and went to a grand jury.

At that time, charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and negligent homicide were all considered, Deters said on the radio Wednesday. The grand jury returned an indictment for murder and voluntary manslaughter.

Deters was criticized by some for possibly "overreaching" or "overcharging" Tensing for shooting and killing DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015, especially after Tensing's second trial ended in a hung jury.

"To say the prosecutors overreached -- that’s idiotic," Deters said.

Asst. Prosecutor Seth Tieger asked Judge Leslie Ghiz to consider adding a charge of reckless homicide for consideration in the jury instructions in Tensing's second trial. Ghiz denied the request and said the evidence in the case -- particularly evidence that indicates Tensing intentionally shot DuBose to kill him -- did not match a charge of reckless homicide.

RELATED: How did we end up with another hung jury? What happens next?

"The only issue left in this case is 'Was this justified?'" Deters said. "That's what the jury has to decide."

The Prosecutor broke his silence Wednesday for the first time since he was accused of violating a gag order in June when the Tensing retrial began.

He addressed reports that his office proposed a plea deal for Tensing; Deters said any talk of a plea deal was informal and only involved himself and Stew Mathews after he "literally ran into him on the street."

"I told Stewart that there was a theory among use-of-force experts that this could have been reckless (homicide)," Deters said. "It was reckless for Tensing to pull his gun, it was reckless for him to put his finger on the trigger and it was reckless to put his gun to DuBose's head."

RELATED: 'Community unrest pulsates' amid 'history of racial strife,' Tensing retrial judge writes

Deters said Mathews refused to plea to any felonies, but he also said he had "no client control."

"Stewart told me 'The problem is, (Tensing's) mother is running the show,'" Deters said on Cunningham's show. "He said 'I almost quit a month before the start of the second trial.'"

Deters previously said he would make a decision on a third trial sometime next week. On the radio Wednesday, he said "in the next few weeks."

"A retrial, for the DuBose family, would be horrible," Deters said. "A retrial, for the Tensing family, would be horrible. But I swore to uphold the law. In the end, I'm going to do what I think is right."

Deters also criticized some decisions made by Judge Ghiz in the retrial; Deters said evidence of Tensing's prior good acts were allowed, but prior bad acts were barred.

"If the defense brought up character, we should have been able to show that as well," Deters said. "It was incredibly prejudicial."

He also said the defense's video analyst expert should not have been qualified as an expert, especially after he said, in court, that he was not a video analyst. Deters called him "a cartoonist."

Deters said a third trial would have a new, randomly assigned judge -- unless Ghiz is selected at random again.

Mathews declined to comment on Deters' interview. 

For complete trial coverage, visit