Today the University of Cincinnati announced that it would settle a grievance brought by former UC police officer Ray Tensing by paying him almost $250,000 in back pay and $100,000 in legal fees he incurred, reports NBC and other sources.

On July 19, 2015, (then) Officer Tensing (who is white) shot and killed Sam DuBose (who is black) in the course of a traffic stop in which DuBose began to drive away from the stop with Tensing’s arm inside his vehicle. The events were captured on Tensing’s body camera. Tensing would claim he killed DuBose in self-defense.

The case occurred in the midst of the #BlackLivesMatter hysteria, however, and within 10 days of the shooting (a remarkably brief period) Prosecutor Joe Deters announced that he had obtained a murder indictment against Tensing.

I previously covered these events, including analysis of the body camera footage, right here at Legal Insurrection in this post: Sam DuBose Shooting: Let’s Go to the Video Tape.

It is notable that Ohio is the only state in the country that places the burden of proof on self-defense on the defense to prove self-defense by a preponderance of the evidence. In the other 49 states, the Prosecution must disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite this favorable burden of proof for Prosecutor Deters, Tensing was tried for murder twice, with both cases resulting in a hung jury.

At that point Deters threw up his hands, declined to re-try Tensing a third time, and forwarded his files to the Department of Justice, which also took no action to bring Tensing to trial. We covered this, as well here at Legal Insurrection, in this post: No Third Trial for Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing in Sam DuBose Shooting.

It is obvious that Tensing’s legal fees for two separate murder trials must have vastly exceeded the $100,000 in legal fee reimbursement he is receiving as part of the settlement, unless much of his legal expenses were covered by third-parties.

Nevertheless, a settlement of nearly $350,000 to an officer twice put before juries on a charge of murder, where both trials hung, in the state with the burden of proof on self-defense most favorable to the prosecution, is a clear demonstration of how weak that charge of murder proved to be.


Andrew F. Branca is an attorney whose practice Law of Self Defense LLC focuses on self-defense law. He is also the host of the weekly free “Law of Self Defense LIVE Show.”

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