CINCINNATI (AP) — An attorney for a University of Cincinnati policeman who fatally shot a driver he stopped over a missing front license plate is asking the court to move the officer's murder trial elsewhere.
The change-of-venue request filed Wednesday argues that Ray Tensing can't get a fair trial in Hamilton County because of extensive pretrial publicity and prejudicial comments made by several city officials and by county prosecutor Joe Deters, who called the July 19 shooting of Samuel DuBose "asinine" and said it was "without question a murder."
"Deters made multiple inflammatory, derogatory and prejudicial statements about (Tensing) declaring his guilt prior to a trial, and these statements have led to an overwhelming number of comments on social media, letters to the editor, and commentary in various forms of media that demonstrate that opinions of potential jurors have been galvanized," defense attorney Stewart Mathews said in the request.
Mathews also alleged city leaders and unspecified media outlets depicted Tensing as guilty and promoted the idea that riots could occur if he's not convicted, creating a "cloud of doom" that might influence jurors.
The prosecution hasn't filed any response to the change-of-venue request, but Deters said in a letter published earlier in The Cincinnati Enquirer that his "harsh words" about Tensing weren't meant as a characterization of most officers. He said it was appropriate for Tensing to ask DuBose to exit the car when he didn't provide a driver's license, but that "what happened after that crossed the line between good police work and committing a crime."
The university fired Tensing shortly after his indictment on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. Tensing pleaded not guilty.
His attorney has said Tensing feared being dragged under the car as the 43-year-old DuBose tried to drive away.
Mathews also has said it would be difficult to get the trial moved. It is currently scheduled for Nov. 16.