Murder charges for officer who fatally shot driver in traffic stop

Jul 29, 2015 1:48 PM by News Staff

CINCINNATI -- A University of Cincinnati officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate has been indicted on murder charges, a prosecutor said Wednesday, adding that the officer "purposely killed him" and "should never have been a police officer."

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the grand jury indictment at a news conference to discuss developments in the investigation into the July 19 shooting of 43-year-old motorist Samuel DuBose by Officer Ray Tensing.

Tensing has said he was dragged by DuBose's car and forced to shoot after he pulled over DuBose for a missing front license plate, according to a university police report. Tensing said in his radio call to a dispatcher that the car almost ran over him and he fired one shot, striking DuBose in the head.

Deters said Wednesday that Tensing's contention that his arm got stuck in the car was "nonsense."

"It was so unnecessary," Deters said.

The officer wasn't dragged by the car, Deters said. "He fell backward after he shot (DuBose) in the head."

Deters said a warrant has been issued for Tensing's arrest.

Tensing's attorney, Stewart Mathews, didn't immediately return phone messages seeking comment after Deters' announcement.

Mathews said earlier Wednesday that he thought an indictment was likely "given the political climate" and comments made by city officials. But Mathews said given the evidence he's seen, he doesn't believe there should be an indictment.

Body-camera video of the shooting was also released Wednesday. DuBose's family had been pressing for its release, and news organizations including The Associated Press had sued Deters to get it released under Ohio open records law.

The University of Cincinnati on Wednesday closed its main campus in anticipation of grand jury action in the case.

Deters called the shooting "senseless" and "asinine."

"He purposely killed him," Deters said. "He should never have been a police officer."

Deters said when he saw the video of the shooting, he was shocked.

"And I realize what this was going to mean to our community, and it really broke my heart because it's just bad," Deters said.

"I feel so sorry for this family and what they lost," Deters said. "And I feel sorry for the community, too."

Tensing, who had been on the university police force since April 2014, received an overall satisfactory rating on his annual performance evaluation this April. It noted he was extremely strong in the traffic area and maintains control of his weapons and of "situations he is involved in."

Tensing previously worked as an officer in the Cincinnati suburb of Greenhills, on either a part-time or full-time basis from April 2011 to last December. Tensing had two performance evaluations showing he met standards and one saying he performed above standards.

If convicted, Tensing could face up to life in prison.

DuBose's July 19 death came amid months of national scrutiny of police dealings with African-Americans, especially those killed by officers. DuBose was black; officer Ray Tensing is white.


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