Ray Tensing, the 25-year-old white University of Cincinnati officer who fatally shot unarmed black motorist Samuel Dubose during a July 19 traffic stop, was indicted for murder today, reports CNN. If convicted he could be sentenced to 15 years to life.
In an afternoon news conference, Hamilton county prosecutor Joe Deters condemned the shooting. ”This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make—totally unwarranted.” Calling the killing “senseless,” Deters also declared that it was ”an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner.”
Footage from the body camera that Tensing was wearing during the off-campus stop was withheld from the public until today. According to Cincinnati news channel WCPO, City Manager Harry Black said it wouldn’t be released until the Cincinnati PD’s investigation was complete. The Dubose family and supporters protested the decision.
The video, which CNN broadcasted in its entirety today, shows Tensing telling Dubose that he’s been pulled over for a missing front license plate.
Early in the exchange the officer asks Dubose, a 43-year-old father of 13, if the car is his because “it was coming back as a female, actually.” Dubose calmly tells him that the car is his wife’s and that he has the missing plate inside of the car. He attempts to look for the plate, Tensing tells him to stop and he complies.
Several times during the fatal traffic stop Tensing asks Dubose to produce his driver’s license and Dubose, in an even tone, stalls. (Before the tape was released, WCPO reported that Dubose had been charged for driving without a license and driving with a suspended license numerous times between 1995 and 2011.)
At one point during the fatal traffic stop, Tensing tells Dubose to hand over what appears to be an unopened bottle of gin lying on the floor of the car. Dubose, whose response is inaudible, gives the officer the botttle.
Throughout the stop Dubose evenly asks Tensing to “run his name” and, when Tensing asks him if his license is suspended, he says no. Eventually Dubose admits that he doesn’t have his driver’s license with him and notes that he lives around the corner.
With that admission, Tensing tells Dubose to remove his seatbelt. Dubose appears to reach for the seatbelt while asserting that he hasn’t done anything illegal. Tensing tries to open the car door, reaches into the car and, in a struggle, fatally shoots Dubose. He then runs away from the car.
Before the video was released Tensing, who had been placed on administrative leave, told investigators that Dubose had dragged him with his car.
Dubose’s family has described him as physically fragile and ill. Today his mother, Audrey, told reporters, “I just thank God that everything is being revealed. …And I pray that everybody out there, all the soldiers who was out there marching with me for [justice] for my son—thank you. And I hope you continue to do this, not just for my son but for many others because—and I’m ready to join the battlefield—because my heart [goes] out to so many.”
Over the past couple of weeks, alluding to the 2001 conflagration following the police shooting of another black man, Timothy Thomas, Cincinnati officials and clergy urged the public to remain nonviolent.
At today’s press conference Mayor John Cranley told reporters that he had met with Dubose’s family and praised them “for their leadership at this time.” Cranley went on to say, “We respect the right of people to peacefully protest, to exercise their First Amendment right. …Our police department is prepared to respect that. Our police department is also prepared to deal with people that would violate the spirit of Samuel Dubose’s life, which was was nonviolence, and his family has called for the same.”
At press time, no violent protests have been reported.