Civil rights attorney explains what Dept. of Justice will look at in Tensing case
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (WKRC) - Prosecutor Joe Deters says his office has done all it can do in the case against Ray Tensing. He says the U.S. Department of Justice has asked to review the case.
The department will be looking at whether Tensing violated Sam Dubose's civil rights.
Civil rights attorney Robert Gresham says the main challenge for prosecutors in state court is proving intent.
There's a different standard on the federal level. Gresham said, "when you're talking about a federal case, it's a little bit different. They have to prove willfulness and a level of intent as well and unfortunately the way the court has interpreted the federal standard, it's really given these officers a lot of leeway."
Deters says Judge Lesley Ghiz excluded two pieces of evidence that potentially showed racial bias which would be important in the civil rights case.
Judge Ghiz would not let jurors see the Great Smokies shirt that Tensing wore the day he shot Sam Dubose. That shirt had a confederate flag on it.
Ghiz also excluded evidence about Tensing pulling over African-Americans more than 80% of the time.
The law firm for which Gresham works, Wright & Schulte, also represented the family of John Crawford. The Fairfield man was shot and killed by Beavercreek police while holding a toy gun in Walmart.
Police did not face state or federal criminal charges in that case. Gresham says nationwide, in most of the officer-involved killings, the system tends to benefit the officer.
Gresham said, "the minute those officers say they fear for their life, the clock is counting down to when that case is either going to be dismissed or somehow it's going to be thrown out by a judge."
Gresham says the Justice Department has a high conviction rate when it brings a case. He says, in general, the department will only take cases that it can win and if there's any sense that they might lose the case, they likely will not bring it.
Gresham also added that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear that his department will not be pursuing a lot of these cases against law enforcement.