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UC Police Officer Indicted For Murder In What Prosecutor Called "Senseless" Killing

Hamilton County Sheriff's Department


A Hamilton County grand jury has indicted a University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing for murder in the shooting death of Samuel DuBose in a July 19 traffic stop.

The shooting was, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters said, the most “asinine” and “senseless” act he has ever seen a police officer commit.

“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years,’’ Deters said in a press conference early Wednesday afternoon at his office. “It was the purposeful killing of a person. That’s what makes it murder.”

WVXU's Tana Weingartner filed this report for NPR.

Tensing, if convicted, could face life in prison. 

Tensing had been on administrative leave since the shooting, but was fired by the university shortly after the grand jury indicted him for murder, according to William Johnson, senior director of employee labor relations at UC. Calls to Tensing's attorney have not been returned.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
The DuBose family supports each other while speaking to the media on Wednesday.

Tensing is alleged to have shot the 43-year-old DuBose in the head after an altercation in a traffic stop off campus about 7 p.m. on Sunday, July 19. DuBose was stopped because his car did not have a front license plate, as is required in Ohio.

There were reports that the 25-year-old Tensing shot DuBose while being dragged by DuBose’s car. Deters said the body cam video – which the prosecutor released to the public Wednesday afternoon – showed that the officer was not dragged by the car.

Credit Tana Weingartner / WVXU
Sam DuBose's mother Audrey is comforted by son Aubrey while waiting to address media Wednesday.

What it did show, Deters said, is that DuBose did not respond to a simple command and started to roll away from the officer.

“He was dealing with somebody who did not have a front license plate,’’ Deters said. “If he starts rolling away, just let him go.”

The traffic stop, Deters said, “was chicken crap.”

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED: The video from Officer Tensing’s body cam is unedited and graphic in nature. The video was provided by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters.

A spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office said Wednesday afternoon that Tensing turned himself in shortly after the press conference and was booked into the Hamilton County Justice Center. He is to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Hamilton County Common Pleas courtroom of Judge Megan Shanahan. 

After the prosecutor's press conference, members of DuBose family and the family attorney, Mark O'Mara, held a press conference in the prosecutor's office. They had been in the office earlier to see the officer's body cam video. 

The evidence of the video, O'Mara said, showed "Sam was who Sam always has been. A peaceful person." 

The victim's mother, Audrey DuBose, said that she thought at first her son's murder "might be covered up." But, she said, "I knew that my son was a righteous man." 

"Bless the Lord in all that you do,'' Mrs. DuBose said. "God is almighty. I'm so thankful that everything was uncovered, because I've been a servant of the Lord all my life. I know the wrath of God and I know the love of God." 

Her son was a peaceful man, Mrs. DuBose said, and would not want people to have a violent reaction to his death. 

She thanked "all those who marched with us; and I hope you continue for others who need it. And I am ready to be on the battlefield." 

Terina Allen, the victim's sister, said the family "knew the video would vindicate our brother. When you know someone, you know someone. His record, as bad as it is, shows he never ran from the law."

Deters said he believes that the University of Cincinnati should become "the Cincinnati police department's sixth district." Since the shooting, UC officials have confined campus police officers' jurisdiction to the campus itself. Previously, UC officers patrolled an area within a mile of the campuses. This incident apparently happened outside that mile radius. 

Before the grand jury indictment was announced, UC officials made the decision Wednesday morning to shut down the Uptown and Medical campuses at 11 a.m., including all offices and all classes.

A statement from the university’s police department said the decision was made “with an abundance of caution in anticipation of today’s announcement of the Hamilton County grand jury’s decision regarding the July 19 officer-involved shooting of Samuel DuBose and the release of the officer’s body camera video. We realize this is a challenging time for our university community.”

The funeral and visitation for DuBose was held Tuesday.

Hours before the indictment was announced, a post on Black Lives Matter Facebook page said that a demonstration would be held Wednesday night in front of the Hamilton County Courthouse downtown a few miles from the UC campus.

Later in the afternoon at city hall, Mayor John Cranley joined other city officials and community leaders in a press conference to discuss the indictment. 

Cranley said that, during the grand jury investigation, the city and the university "wanted the right thing to be done." 

"We had all hoped that the charges that came out of the grand jury would match the actions of the video,'' Cranley said. "That if the actions in the video were justified, there would be no charge; and if they were not justified, the charges would reflect that." 

Bishop Bobby Hilton of the National Action Network and a well-known pastor in Cincinnati's African-American Community, said he was pleased with the grand jury's action. 

"Let's hold our head up and say we just witnessed fairness and justice, as much as possible to this point,'' Hilton said.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.