By Ginny McCabe
CINCINNATI (Reuters) - Jurors in the trial of a white former University of Cincinnati police officer charged with murdering a black man in a traffic stop told the judge their deliberations had deadlocked on Friday but were ordered to redouble efforts at reaching a unanimous verdict.
The 12 panelists were sent back to the jury room by judge Megan Shanahan after telling her they had failed, since beginning deliberations on Wednesday, to agree on whether former officer Ray Tensing was guilty or not guilty of murder or voluntary manslaughter.
The killing fueled demonstrations against use of lethal force by white officers against unarmed blacks and other minorities, which has been the focus of nationwide protests and a renewed national debate over racial bias in the criminal justice system.
The jury consists of six white men, four white women and two black women.
Tensing has pleaded not guilty and has remained free on $1 million bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
"You should listen to one another's opinions with the disposition to be persuaded," Shanahan told jurors in the Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. "Do not hesitate to reexamine your views and change your position if you are convinced it is erroneous."
Body-camera video of the July 2015 traffic stop showed Tensing, 26, shooting Samuel DuBose, 43, in the head after pulling him over for a missing front license plate on his vehicle. The entire incident lasted a few minutes.
Tensing asked DuBose to take off his seatbelt and tried to open the car door, but DuBose did not comply and closed the door. The vehicle started rolling forward slowly as Tensing pulled his gun and fired once.
During closing arguments in the case, the defense maintained that Tensing feared for his life and fired in an attempt to protect himself from being run over by DuBose car or pinned to a nearby guard rail.
In emotional testimony on Tuesday, Tensing said he had no intention of killing DuBose when he fired into the car.
The defense has countered by saying that Tensing has falsified his account of events by exaggerating that he was being dragged by DuBose's vehicle and was never in danger.
(Writing by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Steve Gorman and James Dalgleish)