University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was charged Wednesday with the murder of Sam DuBose, 43, an unarmed black driver he had pulled over for an alleged missing license plate. At the indictment announcement, prosecutors also released video from Tensing’s body camera that directly contradicts the police report on DuBose’s death.
In the narrative submitted by officer Eric Weibel, one of the cops who responded to the scene after Tensing shot DuBose in the head, “Officer Tensing stated that he was attempting a traffic stop ... when at some point, he began to be dragged by a male black driver. ... Officer Tensing stated that he was almost run over by the driver, and was forced to shoot the driver with his duty weapon. ... Officer Tensing repeated that he was dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon.”
Another officer, Phillip Kidd, apparently backed Tensing’s account. Weibel writes, “Officer Kidd told me that he witnessed the Honda Accord drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing fire a single shot.”
But that’s not precisely what we see on the body camera video. Officer Tensing can be heard questioning DuBose about his license, while DuBose insists that it’s not suspended, but he doesn’t have it with him. They go back and forth on this point for a few moments, until Tensing orders DuBose to take off his seatbelt. DuBose puts one hand on the car window and the other on the key in the ignition. Seconds later, Tensing takes his gun out and shoots DuBose—who is now holding both hands up—once in the head.
According to the prosecution—and this squares with the video evidence—the car didn’t start moving until after Tensing fired the fatal shot.
“It is our belief that he was not dragged. If you slow down this tape you see what happens, it is a very slow period of time from when the car starts rolling to when a gun is out and he’s shot in the head,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Wednesday.
He said Tensing fell back after firing the shot, and the car—which accelerated when DuBose’s dead body slumped and “his foot must have pressed on the gas”—didn’t pull him at all.
University of Cincinnati police chief Jason Goodrich claimed July 20 that, when asked for his license, DuBose instead, “produced a bottle of alcohol from inside the car, handing it to Officer Tensing.”
In the video, DuBose does hand over what appears to be a pint bottle of gin, but he does so in response to a direct request from Tensing. Tensing asks him what’s in it, but his response isn’t clearly audible.
“This is, in the vernacular, a pretty chicken-crap stop, all right?” Deters said Wednesday, “And – I could use harsher words.”
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years. This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make, totally unwarranted.”