Cincinnati police officer charged with murder of unarmed man
The Cincinnati, Ohio police officer accused of killing an unarmed black man during a traffic stop has been indicted by a grand jury and charged with murder, the county prosecutor said. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Officer Ray Tensing.
Tensing, who is a white member of the University of Cincinnati Police Department (UCPD), pulled over Samuel Dubose, a 43-year-old African-American man, on Sunday night because the officer said the driver was missing the front license plate on his car. After a brief struggle between the two men, Dubose’s car rolled forward, knocking Tensing to the ground. Tensing then shot Dubose in the head.
"I have been doing this for 30 years, and this is the most asinine act by a police officer I have ever seen," Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said during a press conference announcing the murder charge against Tensing. "This is without question a murder."
Deters said that his office has reviewed hundreds of police shootings, and that Tensing “should never have been a police officer."
“It is our belief that he was not dragged. If you slow down this tape you see what happens, it is a very slow period of time from when the car starts rolling to when a gun is out and he’s shot in the head,” Deters said.
“[Dubose] was simply, slowly rolling away,” he added.
The prosecutor said that the reason for the traffic stop was “a pretty chicken crap stop,” and that Tensing “purposely killed” Dubose.
“He wasn’t dealing with someone who was wanted for murder. He was dealing for someone who was wanted for not having a front license plate,” Deter said.
"I'm treating him like a murderer," he added.
The dozen members of the grand jury also indicted Tensing on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. If he is convicted of murder, he faces 15 years to life in prison.
Police officers are out to arrest Tensing, who is expected to be booked later Wednesday.
Deters initially held back the body camera footage to show the video to Dubose’s family first, but released the footage during the press conference.
“I do think that body cameras should be mandatory for law enforcement,” family attorney Mark O’Mara said.
An attorney for Dubose’s family told reporters that there would not have been an indictment without the video.
Tensing’s lawyer, Stuart Matthews, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday that his client was in fear for his life before shooting Dubose and that he thought he would be run over by the car. Tensing has been a police officer for just over four years, and joined the UCPD in April 2014.
"He's not doing well. He feels terrible about it. He didn't become a police officer to go out and shoot anyone," Mathews told WCPO earlier.
Dubose had a lengthy criminal record, including over 75 traffic and drug charges in Hamilton County over a 20-year span, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. Most of the violations were non-violent, including driving without a license, joyriding, having windows tinted too dark and misdemeanor drug possession. The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles suspended Dubose’s license indefinitely in January.
However, his family said he was not a violent man ‒ despite a 2013 assault charge that was dismissed ‒ but rather the father of 13 children who was engaged to be married.
“He got stopped a lot, but he never tried to fight,” Audrey Dubose, his mother, told the Cincinnati Enquirer.