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Tensing trial: Here are the key moments from Ray Tensing's trial in the shooting death of Sam DuBose

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Posted at 12:47 PM, Nov 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-09 15:23:01-05

CINCINNATI -- The defense and prosecution have finished their cases and now the jury is deciding the fate of former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing.

Tensing, 26, faces charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. The charges stem from a July 2015 incident in which Tensing, who is white, pulled over Samuel DuBose, a 43-year-old black man, for not displaying a front license plate. As DuBose started his car and began to pull away from Tensing against his orders, the officer pulled his gun from the holster and fired it once into DuBose's head, killing him.

Here are nine key moments from the trial.

Jury watches body camera video

During jury selection, some potential jurors said they'd never seen Tensing's body camera footage from July 19, 2015. On Wednesday, they watched it in full and saw DuBose die. At least one juror was visibly upset while watching the video and needed to look away, according to our reporter in the courtroom.

WATCH the body camera video for yourself here.

Dueling experts

Scot Haug, a "use of force" expert and police officer, said he would describe himself as a professional witness.

Haug compared Tensing's statements and body camera footage to police officer training, protocol and Supreme Court ruling. He said Tensing should not have reached into Sam DuBose's car during the traffic stop and that police are taught to never reach into or lunge toward a car because they could die.

Haug also said Tensing was not being dragged and said the shooting "was not justified."

Haug also said DuBose had a state ID in his pocket. This was the first time an ID of DuBose's was mentioned in court.

Watch Haug's testimony in the player below:

Tensing's defense team called its own use-of-force expert, 33-year police veteran James Scanlon, who testified that Tensing was justified in shooting Sam DuBose. He said Tensing's arm was caught in DuBose's steering wheel and said DuBose "turned ignition...mashed accelerator" before Tensing fired.

Scanlon admitted he has only testified as an expert in court four times. He took the case for free.

Assistant Prosecutor Rick Gibson called Scanlon "a lay person" for the duration of his cross-examination. After Scanlon said he "didn't think Tensing said he was (dragged)," Gibson gave him a copy of Tensing's statement to police to review before continuing cross-examination.

 

We saw Tensing's interview with CPD before he was arrested

Prosecutors showed the taped interview between Tensing, Cincinnati Police Sgt. Shannon Heine and officer Terry McGuffey.

READ the transcript of Tensing's interview here.

In the video, Tensing is not under arrest and willingly answered questions for the detectives. His attorney (not Stew Mathews) was also present. Heine also explained that, per University of Cincinnati Police rules, Tensing was allowed to watch the body camera footage before his interview. That policy differs from Cincinnati Police Department rules, Heine said.

Prosecutor Joe Deters referred to this video in opening statements when he said: "You'll get to hear, from Tensing's own mouth, that he meant to shoot (DuBose) in the head."

WATCH this video below:

 

 

Analyst went through body camera footage frame-by-frame

Forensic analyst Grant Frederick broke down Tensing's body camera footage frame-by-frame.

WATCH the video below:

 

The defense made an objection to Frederick's testimony when he began to say Tensing fired a shot before the car moved. Judge Megan Shanahan overruled the objection and said Frederick's testimony was valid as an expert opinion.

During cross-examination, Mathews focused on one point in the video -- less than 2/100 of a second -- where DuBose's car moves before Tensing fires his weapon. Frederick said he believed that indicated the car moved 1-2 feet, if at all.

Was he dragged or not?

The most definitive statement to come out of Frederick's analysis: He said Tensing was not dragged by the car.

"He was up and erect, and before he fired the shot the car moved no more than a couple of feet, if at all," he said. "No, he had not been dragged."

Frederick based his judgment on the motion -- or lack thereof -- of the car and Tensing's position relative to the car based on the background seen through the passenger-side window, the angle of the air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror and Tensing's reflection in the side of the car.

 

Tensing's gear didn't show signs that he was dragged

Michael Trimpe, a trace evidence examiner with the Hamilton County Coroner's Office, testified that he found no auto paint on Tensing's belt that might indicate it scraped up against DuBose's car door -- something that may have happened if Tensing had been dragged. When Mathews questioned him, Trimpe acknowledged a lack of paint doesn't necessarily mean Tensing wasn't dragged.

He also said there were no obvious abrasions or scratches on Tensing's boots indicating they'd been dragged on pavement and found no notable scratches on DuBose's car door.

Watch his entire testimony below:

 
 

Tensing sticks to his story: dragging, feared for his life

Even during an intense cross-examination with prosecutor Joe Deters, Tensing stuck to his original statement -- that he was caught in DuBose's steering wheel, dragged by the car and feared for his life.

Deters challenged Tensing's testimony with, primarily, the body camera footage.

"You do know this is on video, right?" Deters asked Tensing at one point during cross-examination.

Deters pointed out the car's lack of movement based on background images and shadows -- points made during forensic analyst Grant Frederick's testimony to dispute dragging -- and witness Alicia Napier's testimony that Tensing fell back from the car. He also played the shooting portion of the video repeatedly, asking Tensing if he hears the shot and the car's acceleration sound in that order, contrary to his statement.

Tensing didn't change his story under Deters' cross-examination.

Tensing defends his "perception"

"I'm confused about this term, 'perception,'" Deters said early on in his cross-examination. 

Tensing referred to his "perception" on July 19, 2015 before and during the fatal shooting. He maintained that his perception caused him to believe he would be "sucked up underneath the car" or killed. When Deters juxtaposed Tensing's statement with the body camera video and witness testimony, he insisted that he acted based on his perception at the time.

"I can't speak for them, I can only explain my perception," Tensing said, when confronted with witness testimony that contradicted his.

Tensing was wearing Confederate flag shirt when he shot DuBose

Tensing was wearing a black T-shirt that said "Great Smoky Mountains, 1934" with a Confederate flag in the center of the shirt. Tensing later said the shirt had "no meaning" to him. He said he picked it to wear simply because he needed a black undershirt.

Read more on that here.

For more trial coverage, go to wcpo.com/TensingTrial