CINCINNATI (AP) — Social activists held hands in a prayer circle outside a courthouse while potential jurors were inside amid tight security Tuesday in the racially charged murder trial of a white former university police officer charged with killing an unarmed black man during a traffic stop.
Members of an unusually large pool of more than 230 potential jurors had orientation sessions in the Hamilton County courthouse and began filling out 25-page questionnaires that will be studied by the defense and prosecutors before they start questioning candidates in court Oct. 31.
The questions haven’t been made public but likely are aimed at learning of potential jurors’ thoughts and opinions about the case and related issues.
Ray Tensing is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 19, 2015, shooting of 43-year-old Sam DuBose after pulling him over for a missing front license plate near the University of Cincinnati. His attorney has said Tensing, 26, feared for his life.
There was increased security inside the courthouse, with uniformed deputies restricting access to the courtroom area, besides the usual screening upon entry to the building. Outside, faith leaders and social activists prayed for justice and healing.
“We are believers for the full justice of God to happen,” said the Rev. Troy Jackson, director of the Amos Project, a social justice organization. “We’re praying that will be the case.”
They also offered prayers for the families of DuBose and Tensing, who was in the courtroom Tuesday. He was released on $1 million bond after his indictment last year.
Black Lives Matter activists had a rally and march on Saturday and are planning a demonstration outside the courthouse Oct. 31.
The Cincinnati shooting is among cases across the nation in the last three years that have focused attention on how police respond to black people.
Tensing was fired last year by the University of Cincinnati, which has restructured its public safety department and made reforms since the shooting. It also agreed to a $5.3 million settlement with DuBose’s family that includes free undergraduate tuition for his 13 children.