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22 Jul, 2015 15:11

Unarmed black man shot in head by cop during Cincinnati traffic stop

Unarmed black man shot in head by cop during Cincinnati traffic stop

Officials in Cincinnati, Ohio have launched a probe into the fatal shooting of a black motorist by a white officer during a traffic stop. Prosecutors say the victim was shot once in the head, while still inside the car, after struggling with the officer.

“We are rapidly investigating what occurred between University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing and Samuel Dubose and we expect to have our assessment complete before the end of next week,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said in a statement on Tuesday.

Dubose, 43, was pulled over on Sunday night by Tensing, because he was missing the front license plate on his car, University Police Chief Jason Goodrich explained at a news conference on Monday. University and city police work together on and around the campus.

When Dubose was asked for his driver’s license and registration, he “produced a bottle of alcohol from inside the car, handing it to Officer Tensing,” Goodrich said, adding that after a brief struggle the car rolled forward, and Tensing was knocked to the ground. He then shot Dubose.

Tensing, a member of the campus police since April 2014, suffered “minor injuries” in the altercation. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the probe.

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Cincinnati police have reviewed the footage from Tensing’s body camera and say it confirms there was a struggle. However, the video won’t be released until the investigation is complete. Members of the local community, however, are demanding the video be made public.

"This incident didn't involve a Cincinnati Police Department officer, but it happened in our city, and it is our job to ensure this investigation is handled with the attention it deserves," City Manager Harry Black said on Tuesday, as protesters held a vigil demanding justice for Dubose.

According to his friends and relatives, Dubose wasn’t a violent man. They say he was the father of 13 children and was engaged to be married.

"My son was not a violent person," Aubrey Dubose told local news station WLWT.

"Everybody in the community loved Sam. He was so helpful, and he was always around. He used to baby-sit for my daughter,” said Hadassah Thomas, a friend and neighbor. "He didn't carry a gun, so why did he get shot?"

A review of Dubose's records by CNN shows 60 prior arrests.

The University of Cincinnati issued a statement on Tuesday expressing condolences to Dubose's friends and family.

"Our hearts grieve for his loss," the university said. "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."