In Ohio, a grand jury has indicted a University of Cincinnati police officer on murder charges for shooting Sam DuBose, an unarmed African-American man. Police officer Ray Tensing fatally shot DuBose on July 19, after pulling him over for not having a front license plate. In announcing the indictment Wednesday, prosecutor Joseph Deters called the killing “senseless” and “horrible.”
Joseph Deters: “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make. Totally unwarranted. It was — it’s an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless. And I met with the family just moments ago. It’s just horrible.”
Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley praised the indictment of Officer Tensing and compared it to cases in other cities where grand juries chose not to indict police officers.
Mayor John Cranley: “We wanted the truth to come out. And when you look at, for example, the videos in New York earlier this year and you see that no charge was brought, there was a great sense that maybe justice was not done.”
The prosecutor released footage from Officer Ray Tensing’s body camera, which shows Tensing approaching Sam DuBose’s car and telling him that he was stopped for not having his front license plate mounted. The officer asks to see a bottle lying on the floor of the passenger side seat, and DuBose hands him an unopened bottle labeled “gin.” Then Tensing asks to see DuBose’s license. As DuBose searches for it, he acknowledges to Tensing that he might not have the license on him and asks him to run his name instead. Tensing grows agitated and asks him to take off his seat belt. DuBose protests, saying he didn’t do anything. Then he turns the key to start the car. Tensing then reaches into the car and shoots DuBose in the head. A warning to our video audience, the video is graphic.
Officer Ray Tensing: “OK, well, until I can figure out if you have a license or not, go ahead and take your seat belt off for me.”
Sam DuBose: “I didn’t even do do nothing.”
Tensing: “Go ahead and take your seat belt off. Stop! Stop!”
Officer Tensing claimed that he shot DuBose because he was dragged by the car as DuBose drove away. However, the body cam video appears to show the car didn’t start moving until after DuBose was shot. After the indictment of Officer Tensing Wednesday, protesters gathered to demand an end to police brutality. Sam DuBose’s nine-year-old son, Samuel, addressed the crowd.
Samuel DuBose: “I feel good that he’s being locked up, because he had shot him, blatantly murdered. He didn’t do nothing but shoot him. He just shot him. Like what is he doing? My daddy, he was just shot at. [inaudible] They just shot him in the head. He didn’t go. He didn’t get caught up in a car. This dude lied. He knew he was going to be on video. He knew he was going to lie. He thought he wasn’t going to get locked up. That’s why they’re charging him for murder.”
It is the first time a police officer has ever been indicted for murder in the county.