Originally published on July 30, 2015, at NationofChange.org
A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on Wednesday on murder charges for shooting an unarmed motorist in the head during a traffic stop. Although Officer Ray Tensing and another officer claimed that Tensing was being dragged by the suspect’s car and nearly run over by the driver, newly released body cam footage revealed the officers allegedly lied in order to justify the shooting. After releasing the footage, the county prosecutor admitted that he would have continued believing the officers’ version of events if not for the existence of the body cam video.
According to Officer Ray Tensing’s body camera footage on July 19, the officer pulls over Samuel DuBose a few blocks from the campus for driving without a front license plate. When Officer Tensing asks DuBose why he doesn’t have his front plate, DuBose opens his glove compartment to show his license plate to Tensing. After directing DuBose to close the glove compartment, Tensing notices a bottle on the floor of the car.
When asked about the bottle, DuBose hands the officer a closed bottle of gin. After checking the bottle to see if it has been opened, Tensing asks to see DuBose’s driver’s license. DuBose tells the officer that he has a license, but that he does not have it on him and apologizes.
After Tensing asks why he doesn’t have his license on him, DuBose responds, “I just don’t. I’m sorry. I’m just going to go in my house.”
Tensing asks if he lives in the area, and DuBose tells the officer that he lives right around the corner. While grabbing DuBose’s car door handle, Tensing says, “OK, well, until I can figure out if you have a license or not, go ahead and take your seatbelt off.”
DuBose’s left hand pulls the door shut as his right hand reaches for the car key in the ignition. DuBose tells the officer, “I didn’t even do nothing, man.”
Tensing repeats, “Go ahead and take your seatbelt off.”
Although DuBose turns the key and revs the engine, his vehicle does not move as Tensing pulls out his service weapon. While ordering DuBose to stop, Tensing fires a single round from his Sig Sauer P320 shooting DuBose in the head at pointblank range.
As Tensing falls backwards, DuBose’s car begins to roll forward approximately 100 yards before pulling onto a curb and stopping. According to the police report, the Cincinnati Fire Department arrived later and pronounced DuBose dead at the crash scene. Officer Phillip Kidd, who witnessed the incident, backed up Tensing’s version of events and told his fellow officers that he saw Tensing being dragged by DuBose’s car before the shooting.
But Tensing’s body cam video revealed that Tensing was never dragged by the car and instead immediately fell backwards after firing the bullet that killed DuBose. On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Tensing on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. Later that day, officials released the footage from Tensing’s body camera, Tensing turned himself in, and the University of Cincinnati fired him.
“I think he lost his temper because Mr. DuBose would not get out of his car. He wasn’t dragged. When you see it, you will not believe how quickly he pulled his gun and shot him in the head,” stated Hamilton County prosecutor Joseph Deters. “This is without question a murder.”