Tensing, a University of Cincinnati police officer is under investigation after Dubose is shot in the head and killed during a routine traffic stop. After Tensing stops Dubose’s car for not having a front license plate, Dubose refuses to provide a driver’s license, produces an alcohol bottle instead and refuses to get out. A struggle ensues, Tensing fires one shot and is knocked to the ground.
Cincinnati police start an investigation into Dubose’s shooting. City Manager:
A Cincinnati police investigation underway and I ensure complete transparency. This is a serious situation and I will do everything necessary to ensure the investigation is handled as such.
In a police incident report Tensing claims that Dubose was dragging him with his car and he feared he would be run over when he fired a single shot that killed him. Another officer, Phillip Kidd, said he witnessed Dubose’s 1998 Honda Accord dragging Tensing and Tensing firing one shot, Another officer, who wrote the report, Eric Weibel, said he observed Tensing after the incident and said Tensing complained of pain in his left arm:
I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if he had been dragged over a rough surface.
Prosecutors release a bodycam video of Dubose’s shooting. Prosecutor Deters said the video refutes Tensing’s claim that DuBose pulled away from the stop and dragged Tensing with his car. After the stop the two men talk calmly and politely for about one minute and 50 seconds. Tensing repeatedly asks DuBose to produce a driver’s license. DuBose says he has a license but he doesn’t have it with him, and he apologizes. Tensing then attempts to open the door. It is not clear what happens next, but within a second Tensing shoots Dubose in the head. Deters:
I think he (Tensing) 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,” Deters said at a 1 p.m. news conference. He was simply, slowly rolling away. That’s it. It was senseless. It didn’t have to happen
Tensings body-camera records two unnamed Cincinnati police officers corroborate his account of the fatal shooting of Samuel Dubois, where they backed him up when he says he was dragged by the victim’s car. The officers repeat Tensing’s account of the incident three times and one officer says he witnessed the victim dragging Tensing. Parts of the video transcript:
Tensing: I think I’m OK. He was just dragging me.
Second Officer: Yeah, I saw that.
Tensing: I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him.
Later, Tensing: He was dragging me, man.
Tensing: I got my hand and my arm caught inside.
Officer: Yeah, I saw that.
Tensing is charged by grand jury indicted with murder and voluntary manslaughter. If convicted, Tensing faces a sentence of at least 15 years and as much as life in prison on the murder charge and as much as 11 years on the manslaughter charge. Prosecutor Deters said he would seek life in prison for Tensing:
Can you imagine the outrage you would have if this was your kid, or this was your brother? This guy didn’t deserve to be tased, and he certainly didn’t deserve to be shot in the head. This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make. It was unwarranted. It’s an absolute tragedy that, in the year 2015, anyone would behave in this manner…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.
Tensing turns himself in to the Hamilton County Courthouse. Tensing’s Lawyer criticized Joe Deters’ announcement, saying he believes his client “has been thrown under the bus,” and that “what Deters’ said was a disgrace” to Cincinnati law enforcement.
— Tony Mirones (@TMironesWCPO) July 29, 2015
Tensing pleads not guilty in court and is released on bond. Judge Shanahan set;s Tensing’s bond at $1 million. Tensing has his head bowed, eyes closed and does not look at anyone in the court. Tensing’s father and other family members are in the courtroom during the arraignment. When Shanahan sets the high bond, applause breaks out in the courtroom, and she admonishes the attendees. Tensing’s lawyer says he would do his best to raise the money to get his client out of jail and Tensing leaves the Hamilton County jail eight hours later after spending the night behind bars.
The Guardian reports that Kidd and Weibel, the officers who corroborated Tensing’s account of Dubose’s shooting, were implicated in prior death of another unarmed black man. Kelly Brinson, a 45 year old hospitalized mentally ill black man experiences a psychotic episode and is placed into a seclusion room by seven University of Cincinnati officers. According to the lawsuit, before Brinson was placed in restraints he “repeatedly yelled that slavery was over and he repeatedly pleaded not to be shackled and not to be treated like a slave”. One of the officers shocks him three times with a taser and puts him in restraints. Brinson suffers cardiac arrest and dies three days later leaving behind a young son, brother and sister. Court documents state:
All seven officers are accused of using excessive force and acted with deliberate indifference to the serious medical and security needs of Mr Brinson.
Brinson’s family settled a federal civil court case with the hospital and the police department for $638,000. All University of Cincinnati campus police officers were also removed from patrolling the psychiatric wards at the hospital after Brinson’s death.
Lab tests confirm that contents of a bottle of Barton’s gin seized by Tensing in Dubose’s traffic stop are, as Dubose had said, air freshener. The liquid tests negative for ethyl alcohol. Hamilton County Coroner:
[The liquid] consistent with compounds commonly found in fragrance products such as air fresheners and perfumes.