CINCINNATI -- Ray Tensing's second murder trial began Thursday. While many themes were the same, only two people returned for this trial: Tensing and his attorney.
"This will be a different trial," Judge Leslie Ghiz told jurors during jury selection.
Tensing's first trial ended with a hung jury in November.
But the case -- in which Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati officer, shot and killed Sam DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015 -- remains the same.
Here are the most noteworthy points from Thursday, the first day of Tensing's retrial:
1. Stacey DeGraffenreid's opening statement was very different from Joe Deters’
DeGraffenreid — who did not speak during jury selection — took the reins for the prosecution’s opening statement. She started by reading the indictment and charges against Tensing: murder and voluntary manslaughter.
Then, she described the events on July 19, 2015 — she said Tensing pulled DuBose over for a missing front license plate. She said Tensing approached DuBose’s car, violated protocol and shot DuBose intentionally. She said the body camera footage lays out what happened during the “very quick encounter” that led to DuBose’s death.
“The only part that we really need to focus on are the minutes between Tensing and DuBose,” DeGraffenstein said of the body camera footage. "It is a very quick encounter, but the analysts will break it down for you. You’ll be able to use common sense, and you’ll come to a decision in this matter.”
WATCH DeGraffenreid's opening statement below
She also said the video shows DuBose flinch before the gunshot — not mash the accelerator.
"You’ll see how Mr. DuBose reacts,” she said. "You’ll see, he almost flinches before shots fired."
In November, during Tensing’s first trial, Deters gave a brief opening statement meant to poke holes in Tensing’s story, one that his attorney says justifies the fatal shooting. He rattled off a list of “Tensing’s lies,” and said the body camera footage was the most important piece of evidence in the trial.
“Thank God we have a body cam,” he said.
DeGraffenreid’s approach focused more on logistics and analysis, but it also hinged on the importance of the body camera footage.
2. Stew Mathews placed more blame on UC police
Mathews’ opening statement was anecdotal, to some degree — he described his own childhood and his mother’s affection for Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story” radio program.
“He said ‘Now you know the rest of the story,’” Mathews said. “And that’s what I’ll do. I’m going to tell you the rest of the story.”
Mathews began by describing his client as a driven young man who always wanted to be a police officer. Because of his ambition, Tensing felt compelled to aggressively patrol the UC campus and surrounding neighborhoods, Mathews said.
At the time of the shooting, UC police had the authority to conduct police work -- including traffic stops for serious violations -- outside campus boundaries. Mathews said the university and police department encouraged officers to heavily patrol the school perimeter to keep crime as far from campus as possible.
“Some say it was extremely harsh, but it was working,” Mathews said.
Now, after a top-to-bottom departmental review, University of Cincinnati Police Department officers no longer proactively stop drivers or pedestrians. Whenever there's an off-campus traffic stop, the chief is notified.
Mathews argued that Tensing was doing his job — and doing it well — and DuBose’s missing front license plate and a suspended license tied to the car’s registration was reason enough to initiate a traffic stop.
"Ray Tensing was active,” Mathews said. "If he saw a violation, he stopped.”
WATCH Mathews' opening statement below
Mathews then listed the reasons Tensing said he had cause to fear for his safety: DuBose’s inability to produce a license, the gin bottle — filled with air freshener — in his car, and the fact that DuBose was “slow to stop.”
Mathews said Tensing fired a shot at "whatever he could fire at to stop the threat.”
"Ray Tensing's purpose, at that point, was not to cause the death of Sam DuBose, it was not to hurt Sam DuBose -- it was to stop the threat,” Mathews said. “You’ll find that this happened so quickly that he did, instinctively, the only thing he could do."
3. Compliance — a major theme in jury selection — was brought up by the defense
It was only a small portion of Mathews’ 31-minute opening statement, but he managed to bring up compliance, which struck a nerve in some jurors during voir dire.
Mathews said Tensing would not have shot DuBose if he “cooperated.”
“It’s a terrible tragedy. All he had to do was cooperate with the officer,” Mathews said. “He would have gone to the justice center, and who knows what would happen there, but he wouldn’t have been shot.”
Mathews told the jury that DuBose had marijuana and cash in his car.
“He would have gone to jail had Ray Tensing had an opportunity to discover (the drugs),” Mathews said.
During jury selection, several jurors responded to questions about black men who are shot and killed by police with statements about following police officers’ orders. In fact, two jurors selected to sit on the jury mentioned compliance during jury selection.
“If you follow an officer’s orders and comply, you are less likely to get shot, no matter what race,” one female juror said.
“...must be compliant to the law to prevent altercations,” another woman said.
4. Jurors watched all 26 minutes of Tensing’s body camera footage
Jurors watched the fatal shooting and the aftermath, including Tensing’s own account of the moments leading up to the shooting.
Tensing repeatedly said “I was dragged” when asked what happened.
Lt. Tim Barge was the first witness to testify; he explained UCPD’s body-worn camera policy and some about the mechanics of the body camera. Barge said Tensing had to turn the body camera on manually and turned it off on his way to the hospital to avoid “violating HIPPA.”
WATCH the body camera footage and Barge's testimony below
5. Officer Philip Kidd tells the court what he saw — or didn’t see, rather
Kidd was one of the responding officers who was already on the scene when Tensing shot DuBose but didn’t see the actual shooting.
Kidd said he and his trainee, Officer David Lindenschmidt, responded to Tensing’s radio call regarding a “slow to stop traffic stop” in Mount Auburn. Kidd said Thill Street — Tensing’s location — was known for gang activity and shootings.
WATCH Kidd's testimony below
Kidd said he thought he saw Tensing reach into the car with two hands, and he saw Tensing fall backward. He did not see Tensing being dragged, he said.
Kidd’s body camera footage was played for the jury; in it, he told Tensing twice “I saw that” when Tensing said he was dragged by DuBose’s car.
“Did you see Mr. Tensing being dragged?” Assistant Prosecutor Seth Tieger asked Kidd.
“No,” Kidd answered.
“Why did you say you saw him being dragged?” Tieger asked.
“In the moment, I saw him move with the car, so I thought I saw him being dragged,” Kidd said. “But I didn’t actually see it, no.”
Mathews also asked Kidd if he did see Tensing dragged by DuBose’s car; Kidd, again, said he did not.
Kidd said he “didn’t want to get into it” with Tensing at the scene by correcting him and saying he only saw Tensing move with the car.
Mathews asked Kidd if he felt pressure from UC to change his testimony; Kidd said “no."
6. Two leftover witnesses will testify Friday
Officer Lindenschmidt and a civilian witness — presumably Alicia Napier — were scheduled to testify Thursday. Judge Leslie Ghiz aimed to adjourn for the day at 1:30 p.m., so she postponed the two witnesses’ testimonies until Friday.
Napier was in her car on Thill Street when the shooting occurred. She said she saw it in the rearview mirror of her car, but didn’t see Tensing shoot DuBose. She said she heard a “pow” and saw Tensing fall backward. She said she initially thought Tensing was the one who was shot.
For complete trial coverage, visit wcpo.com/TensingTrial.