CINCINNATI - Outspoken Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones says he would consider hiring Ray Tensing now that murder and voluntary manslaughter charges against the former University of Cincinnati officer have been dismissed.
Talking to WCPO Monday, Jones recommended that Tensing “sue UC and fight for his job back." Jones criticized former UC President Santa Ono and former police Chief Jason Goodrich, saying they threw Tensing "under the bus."
“I know of him (Tensing) by what I've seen, and I talked to one of his supervisors in the past when this first started and they spoke very highly of him," Jones told WCPO Monday.
“He has never applied to a job at my place. If he did, we would run him through like anyone else.”
It’s an inflammatory question – should Tensing be a police officer again?
Jones and Tensing’s attorney, Stew Mathews, spoke out on the “yes” side Monday while Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Sam DuBose’s brother, Aubrey DuBose, are firmly on the “no” side.
“I believe he should sue UC and fight for his job back and defaming him," Jones said.
UC fired Tensing after he was indicted for shooting and killing Sam DuBose during a traffic stop on July 19, 2015.
“I believe the way they attacked and accused him he should fight for his job back," Jones said. “I am not his attorney nor do I talk to him, but that is what I think he should do.”
The sheriff railed against UC's agreement with Cincinnati police that allowed Tensing and other UC officers to patrol off campus, as well as orders from Goodrich to write tickets for even the smallest offenses. Tensing stopped DuBose off campus for not having a front license plate.
"He (Tensing) was thrown under the bus by all of them. They all left. They all got paid and they all left, and they all pointed their finger at him and they got no issues on them at all. He absorbed it all. Period," Jones said.
"The president of the university left. The chief left. They all left. The chief of police from Cincinnati - the previous chief - made this agreement with ... the UC police chief and the president of the university. They all cut these deals where all these UC officers would make these stops in what they referred to as the 'no-fly zone.'
"It was to run people out of a certain area and they all thought it was great, wonderful and then this happened,and I believe he was sacrificed immediately like they didn't know anything about it. It reminded me of Lt. Calley in the Vietnam War," Jones said, referring to the My Lai Massacre.
"The second lieutenant — the lowest ranking officer in the officer's rank - received all the punishment. No generals, nobody else received anything."
Jones noted that Tensing has been a police officer since he graduated from college.
“I would assume he is not afraid to go back into the lion’s den,” Jones said.
Mathews said Tensing deserves another chance.
"This case is over with, so theoretically I suppose he could go up to UC today and say, 'Here I am, Chief. Put me back to work' - although he has been fired and there's an issue pending about that," Mathews said.
“He's a good police officer. He did what probably 99% of police officers who were faced with that situation would have done."
Mathews said Tensing is well-trained and had no disciplinary record as a UC officer.
“He'd make an excellent officer for any department who wanted to take a chance on him,” Mathews said.
But Deters said Tensing should never be a cop again.
“I hope not. Some of the best people I know are police officers and I think this incident was unjustified,” Deters said at a news conference last week.
Deters told WCPO Anchor Tanya O'Rourke in a one-on-one interview that it would be “a serious mistake” for law enforcement to hire Tensing.
“If I’m a chief and I got a guy applying for a job who was tried twice for murder and then the feds are now actively investigating civil rights violations, I don’t think I’d hire him,” Deters said. “There are too many candidates out there.”
Hire Tensing? DuBose's brother laughed scornfully.
“He shouldn't go nowhere and be a cop,” said Aubrey DuBose. “They should take his gun away permanently.”
Judge Leslie Ghiz dismissed charges against Tensing Monday after Deters said he would not retry Tensing following two mistrials. Afterward, Jones all but invited Tensing to apply to the Butler County Sheriff's Office and described what Tensing needs to do.
"You have to go through the process. You have to go through a polygraph. You have to go through a psych exam. You have to go through all those things that you would for any police department," Jones said, "but he's not done anything that I've seen - looking at the service - other than he's a police officer that was charged and ... they couldn't get a conviction. Charges were dropped."
Jones said he does not expect the U.S. Attorney, who is investigating Tensing for possible civil rights violations, will “find anything.”
"By looking at it from the outside, I'm not the federal government, and I'm not an attorney, but I don't see how they can charge him with anything as far as civil rights violations," Jones said.
If he gets rehired, Tensing would be following in the footsteps of Officer Stephen Roach, whose fatal 2001 shooting of an unarmed black man during a foot chase led to three nights of civil unrest in Cincinnati.
A judge acquitted Roach, a Cincinnati police officer, in the shooting of Timothy Thomas, and Roach went to work for the Evendale police.
Jones has been targeted by recent demonstrations for not allowing his deputies to carry narcan or administer it for heroin overdoses.
For complete trial coverage, visit wcpo.com/TensingTrial.