The white University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot a black motorist earlier this month after a traffic stop was indicted Wednesday on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter.
The shooting took place on July 19, when Samuel DuBose, an African-American man, was shot and killed in his car in the Cincinnati suburb of Mt. Auburn following a brief struggle with University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing, who is white. Prosecutors said Wednesday that a warrant has been issued for Tensing’s arrest.
At a Wednesday afternoon news conference, prosecutor Joseph Deters described the shooting as “the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make” and said that the 26-year-old Tensing “should never have been a police officer.” Tensing was arraigned at 10 am July 30. Tensing plead not guilty and bail was set at one million dollars. Tensing posted bond later that day.
Tensing is next scheduled to appear in court August 19.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Video of the Incident Shows Tensing Quickly Take out His Gun & Shoot DuBose in the Head
Deters, who had rebuffed requests from Cincinnati media outlets to release video of the shooting prior to the announcement of the indictment, released the video Wednesday, offering it as evidence that Tensing acted quickly in gunning down DuBose. You can watch the raw video shown at the press conference above.
Tensing had told investigators he shot DuBose after a struggle. But the video shows something much different: After questioning Dubose about the status of his license, Tensing takes out his gun and shoots DuBose in the head before any kind of struggle.
— Libby Cunningham (@WCPOLibby) July 29, 2015
Tensing — according to his personnel files with the University of Cincinnati and his former employer, the Greenhills Police Department — had a clean performance record prior to the stop and had no recorded incidents of misconduct.
There were also no indications that Tensing ever pulled or fired his service weapon prior to the stop.
On July 27, however, Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell admitted that Tensing’s body cam video of the encounter with Dubose was “not good” — a claim validated with the release of the video on Wednesday.
“It’s not a good situation,” City Manager Harry Black said to WCPO Cincinnati. “It’s a tragic situation, someone has died that did not necessarily need to die.”
WCPO and other media outlets had sued the city for the video’s release. “Unless I’m ordered to by the Ohio Supreme Court, and I doubt I will be, they’re not going to get it,” Deter said, in response to the video requests.
“Releasing our stuff without our investigation completed, I think it’s a very slippery slope and I want to make sure that this investigation has not been tainted by any person or tape or anything.”
Tensing’s University of Cincinnati reviewer found that Tensing needed more exposure to community interaction outside of traffic enforcement during his April 9 review. Tensing’s record included two citizen compliments, a letter of appreciation and two peer recognitions.
The argument that this incident was fueled by Tensing’s lack of experience was bolstered by State Senator Cecil Thomas, a former Cincinnati police officer, who told WKRC Cincinnati that Tensing did not have adequate training to make arrests on the city streets. If Tensing had proper police training, Thomas said, he would had known how to deescalate the situation.
Tensing joined the University of Cincinnati police force after graduating from the university with a degree in criminal justice. According to University of Cincinnati documents, an officer apprentice makes between $20.84 and $21.88 per hour, while a grade one officer makes between $22.96 and $24.11 per hour.
2. DuBose’s Sister Said Tensing Likely Would Have Gotten Away With Murder Had it Not Been for the Body Camera Footage
At an emotional news conference shortly after a grand jury indicted Tensing, DuBose’s mother, brother and sister talked about their immense grief, their gratitude for the indictment, and the role Tensing’s body camera played in the indictment.
Since a second University of Cincinnati police officer who arrived on the scene had corroborated Tensing’s account of the incident, Terina Allen, DuBose’s sister, said it was likely Tensing would have gotten away with murder had it not been for the body camera.
“People don’t listen. They just look at stereotypes. My brother was not a stereotype.” -Terina Allen, Samuel DuBose’s sister.
— Desire (@Desire_Renee) July 29, 2015
Terina Allen is speaking the truth.
— Salena ✌ (@MrsLifeCoach) July 29, 2015
— Joshua Jackson (@JoshuaKJackson) July 29, 2015
The initial police report of the incident offered a description of the incident that was largely rebuffed by the video.
Tensing reported asking DuBose for his driver’s license, which DuBose failed to produce. Instead, DuBose “produced a bottle of alcohol from inside the car, handing it to Officer Tensing,” University of Cincinnati Police Chief Jason Goodrich said during a press conference July 20.
The video does show DuBose handing a bottle to Tensing. But the police report mentions a struggle during which the car started to roll forward and Tensing was knocked to the ground.
The video, though, shows Tensing shoot DuBose in the head without a struggle.
Friends and family of DuBose had argued in the shooting’s aftermath that Dubose was too frail to have confronted Tensing.
“We were so concerned about him being sick,” said Hadassah Homas, a long-term friend of Dubose who described the man as “weak” and “frail” to WCPO Cincinnati. “Sam has been sick for a while. He did not have no fight in him. Nothing. He was just so weak. To take his life – his life was – I mean he was very fragile.”
DuBose has been charged with driving without a license more than 13 times between 1995 and 2009, according to court records obtained by Cincinnati’s Fox 19. He has also been charged with driving while suspended eight times from 2005 and 2011 and with failure to display a proper a proper license plate on his vehicle four times between 1995 and 2009. Dubose had more than 75 offenses charged to him over his lifetime.
But he had no history of violent crime and was not acting aggressively after being pulled over by Tensing.
3. DuBose Was On His Way to Watch a Movie With His 9-Year-Old Son When He Was Killed
DuBose’s 9-year old son – also named Samuel – told CNN affiliate WKRC-TV that his father was on his way to watch a movie with him before being stopped.
“He was coming home that night and we had a projector so we were going to watch a movie on it but we didn’t get to do that … because he died.” Samuel, Jr. described his father as his role model who helped him play basketball and football.
DuBose, a 43-year old music producer and artist, was the reported father of 13 kids. His family remembered him as a gentle man. “I would love to know just what happened,” said Ebony Johnson, Dubose’s biological cousin and close friend, to the Cincinnati Enquirer. Johnson indicated that Dubose was recently hospitalized. “He was meek and mild and so peaceful. There’s no way he could struggle and fight.”
Dubose had previously been arrested on drug charges, but was working to turn his life around. According to Johnson, Dubose had worked toward being drug-free over the last two years. “You could just see it,” Johnson said. “He was maintaining and he was living his heart. He paid his time, and now he’s gone.”
Protestors marched in the streets July 26, yelling “black lives matter” in the wake of DuBose’s death.
4. The Shooting Came 2 Months After a Cincinnati Police Officer Was Ambushed & Killed in the Line of Duty
The rash of gun violence in Cincinnati – which led to the ambush shooting of Cincinnati Police Officer Sonny Kim on June 17 – may have been on Tensing’s mind during the fatal police stop. Kim, who was a 27-year veteran of the police force, became the first Cincinnati police officer to fall in the line of duty in 15 years.
Kim was responding to a call for backup for a call that started with a woman filing a sex offense against her boyfriend, Trepierre Hummons.
Hummons and Kim exchanged fire at close range after a failed attempt by Hummons’ mother to deescalate the situation, leading to Hummons wrestling away Kim’s gun and using it to fire on other officers on the scene. Hummons – a member of Madisonville, Ohio’s Clutch Gang – was ultimately killed by Officer Tom Sandmann.
As reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, the shooting marks a year that has seen more than 200 people shot in Cincinnati – the most in a decade. The latest shooting came a few hours after Kim’s funeral, with a police officer wounding a suspect in Over-the-Rhine, a majority black neighborhood in downtown Cincinnati.
The notion that Kim, who wasn’t scheduled to work on the day of the shooting but volunteered to help cover the increase in police calls, died while simply doing his job, has shaken up the Cincinnati law enforcement community and has likely placed everyone on edge.
“This could have happened to anyone who arrives on the scene,” Police Sgt. Kara Graves told the Cincinnati Enquirer. Graves was in attendance at Kim’s funeral.
“There’s nothing you can really do to prepare yourself when you put on the vest every day,” she told the paper. “You never leave home without saying goodbye.”
5. The University of Cincinnati Has Vowed to Reform its Police Force Following the Incident
In a statement released July 21, University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono reached out to the community.
“On behalf of the University of Cincinnati community, I want to extend our condolences to the family and loved ones of Samuel Dubose,” the statement reads. “Our hearts grieve for his loss. We also know that police officers risk their lives every day, and when their efforts to protect themselves and our community result in a death, it is a tragedy. No matter the circumstances, it is a time of unimaginable sadness for all involved.”
Indicating that the university is committed to “a safe community to all,” Ono followed the press release with an announcement Wednesday indicating that the university is open to discussing its participation with the city’s Collaborative Agreement with the United States’ Department of Justice, which dictates reform to the Cincinnati Police Department’s use of force, training and transparency requirements following the 2001 riots. The riots – the largest urban disturbance in the United States since the 1992 Los Angeles riots – were triggered by the police killing of an unarmed 19-year old black man during an arrest for traffic citations.
“We will create a new community advisory group that will work directly with the community and the University of Cincinnati police department,” Ono said during the July 22 news conference. “We will be reviewing – comprehensively – training, policies and procedures and making sure we are applying best practice in everything we do.”
Read more about Ray Tensing and Sam DuBose in Spanish at our sister site, AhoraMismo.com: