CINCINNATI (AP) — A Cincinnati pastor, who served as a voice for the family of a black man killed by a police officer, won praise last year from a high-ranking police official for helping the community navigate the turmoil of the officer’s mistrial. He is expected to reprise his role during the officer’s retrial.
Bishop Bobby Hilton received an email last November from an assistant police chief, Lt. Col. Terri Theetge, thanking him for his calming presence as a jury failed to reach consensus in the case of Ray Tensing, the white ex-University of Cincinnati officer charged with murder in the death of Sam DuBose, The Cincinnati Enquirer (http://cin.ci/2r9WVn5 ) reported.
Theetge, who is white and comes from a long line of officers, wrote that Hilton helped prevent anger from turning to violence, saying the city “had potential to explode.”
“I and the rest of the citizens of Cincinnati owe you a debt of gratitude,” she wrote.
The praise from police came alongside credit from the family of DuBose, who was killed during a traffic stop in July 2015.
“He was able to call a wrong a wrong,” said Dubose’s uncle, Aubrey DuBose. “There is so much political pressure here that people can be afraid to speak out. Bishop Hilton was not afraid.”
After the hung jury, Hilton, pastor at the Word of Deliverance church, joined other preachers in meeting with prosecutors to demand a retrial. Prosecutor Joe Deters said his relationship with Hilton, while rocky at first, grew as they got to know each other.
“He is a very smart man,” Deters said. “I think he genuinely cares about the community.”
Deters and others agreed that Hilton placed the interests of the DuBose family first and helped relay their wishes to the public. Among them was the desire that any protests in the wake of the trial should remain peaceful.
But some other activists wanted Hilton to be more confrontational with the local power structure. Brian Taylor, who works with the local Black Lives Matter group, said Hilton would have more impact if he joined their efforts.
Hilton, whose sister is a Cincinnati police officer, has volunteered as a chaplain for the department. He has said that his disagreements with police make him “pro-justice,” not “anti-cop.”
His activism has evolved over the years. He became president in 2012 of the new Cincinnati chapter of the National Action Network founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
“As you begin to assist people, you begin to see what they are experiencing, the struggles, the injustices,” the 58-year-old Hilton said. “I saw that I needed to be out here and help in this area of civil rights.”
Hilton is expected to again be a key advocate for the DuBoses as the second trial gets underway. Jury selection continues Tuesday at the Hamilton County courthouse.
Information from: The Cincinnati Enquirer, http://www.enquirer.com