CINCINNATI (AP) — Jurors in the murder trial of a white University of Cincinnati police officer ON Tuesday visited the scene where he fatally shot a black man during a 2015 traffic stop on a street near campus.
Before they left by bus, Hamilton County Judge Megan Shanahan advised jurors that they shouldn’t consider what they see there as evidence and that conditions might have changed since the shooting.
Officer Ray Tensing, 26, shot Sam DuBose, 43, in the head after pulling over the unarmed man for a missing front license plate; the car DuBose was driving continued to roll forward until it ran into a utility pole. His attorney has said Tensing feared for his life as DuBose tried to drive away.
“The only purpose of your visit is to help you understand the evidence as it will be presented to you in the courtroom,” Shanahan said.
Opening statements were expected to begin after the jury visit concluded.
A jury of two black women, four white women and six white men was seated Monday. Four white women were added as alternate jurors after a day of questioning by attorneys who urged jury candidates to put aside race, news stories and police perceptions for the case of the now-fired officer.
Black Lives Matter activists criticized the racial makeup of the jury in a city which the 2010 U.S. Census showed had a nearly 45 percent black population. They have been part of demonstrations outside the courthouse.
The trial in Ohio and one that began on Monday in Charleston, South Carolina, for another white former police officer facing a murder charge for the shooting of a black man are among cases over the last two years that have increased attention to how black people are treated by police in the United States. The two shootings occurred after traffic stops.
Shanahan on Tuesday rejected a defense motion to move the trial to another county.
Assistant prosecutor Rick Gibson said prior knowledge of the case was not a problem, as long as jurors followed the law and decided the case based on the evidence.
Both sides asked potential jurors about the widely viewed video from Tensing’s body-worn camera and warned that it and other trial evidence would be graphic. Mathews said the video does not show the angle the officer was viewing nor “what the person wearing that camera perceives in his brain or feels in his gut.”
The judge on Monday assured potential jurors that their anonymity would be protected and said she expects the trial to end by Nov. 18.
Associated Press writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to this report.