Disturbing footage of University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing shooting black, unarmed motorist Samuel DuBose to death after a traffic stop has led to a murder charge on Wednesday. The incident happened on July 19.
If convicted, Tensing could go to prison for life, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said in a news conference. Calling the shooting “unwarranted,” Deters played body camera footage of the traffic stop shooting that appeared to contradict Tensing's version of what happened.
After first watching the video, Deters said he was shocked and convinced that DuBose had not acted violently in any way against Tensing, who is white. "I've been doing this for over 30 years. This is the most asinine act I've ever seen a police officer make. . It's an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless.”
Deters added, “He purposefully killed him. He should have never been a police officer. He wasn’t dealing with someone wanted for murder. He was dealing with someone who did not have a front license plate."
After DuBose failed to produce a driver’s license, the situation quickly escalated. The video showed the officer trying to open the car door and Dubose stopped him. Seconds later Tensing pulled out his gun and shot DuBose in his head.
Tensing said he shot DuBose because he feared for his life. The officer claimed DuBose almost ran over him when we pulled away and was dragged by DuBose’s car. Tensing’s attorney Stew Matthews told CNN, "The guy jams the keys in the ignition. . .Turns the car on, jams it in the drive and mashes the accelerator. He wasn't slowly pulling away. . .(Tensing) thought he was going to be sucked under the car that was pulling away from him. He thought he was going to get sucked under and killed."
Deters said the story was not true, that Tensing was not dragged. "He was simply slowly rolling away. That's all he did."
Tensing surrendered to authorities shortly after news of the indictment broke, and he is expected to be arraigned on Thursday. He has been fired from his job.
Family members of the victim expressed gratitude that there was ample evidence to charge Tensing with murder. The body camera shows what really happened, they said.
Mark O'Mara, an attorney for the family, said he does not believe there would have been an indictment if there hadn't been video of the shooting.
"We've now made a huge first step because -- in a situation where sometimes people believe that officers are not held accountable for their actions -- in this case, one is being held accountable. So Cincinnati is showing the rest of us how to do this right," O'Mara said.