CINCINNATI — A Hamilton County, Ohio grand jury on Wednesday indicted University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing on charges for senselessly and needlessly shooting an unarmed black man to death a week ago.
Tensing killed Samuel Debose after stopping the father of 10 for not having a front license plate on his car near the UC campus on July 19.
When Tensing asked for Dubose’s license, the 43-year-old Debose handed him a bottle of alcohol and said he didn’t have his license on him.
After the traffic stop began with pleasantries, it quickly spiraled into a contentious exchange that ended with the officer quickly un-holstering his firearm and firing one shot into Debose’s head.
Here is how the exchange went on video, according to WCPO of Hamilton County:
“I just don’t. I’m sorry. I’m just going to go in my house,” DuBose says, with his car facing south on Rice Street in Mount Auburn.
“OK. Where do you stay at? Down here?” Tensing asks.
DuBose: “Right around the corner.”
Tensing: “OK, until I can figure out if you have a license or not, go ahead and take your seat belt off for me.”
Tensing pulls the door latch and opens the door a few inches.
DuBose pulls it closed with his left hand and uses his right hand to reach for the car key in the ignition.
“I didn’t even do nothing,” DuBose says.
“Go ahead and take your seat belt off,” Tensing says again.
DuBose turns the key to start the car and revs the engine, but the car doesn’t move.
Tensing reaches in the window with his left hand and appears to grab DuBose’s shoulder strap. He pulls his gun with this right hand, shouts, “Stop! Stop!” and shoots DuBose.
The car jumps forward and rolls down the street about 100 yards until it runs off the road and stops – engine still running.
Tensing and another officer run after the car. The other officer yells to Tensing, “Did you hit him?”
Tensing yells back, “I don’t know. I might have.”
With guns drawn, the two officers reach the car together and find DuBose slumped back in the driver’s seat.
Tensing reaches through the window with his left hand and turns the key to stop the engine.
Out of breath, Tensing says: “I thought he was going to run me over.”
Debose was killed immediately and pronounced dead at the scene.
Tensing tried to use the excuse that he feared for his life as he thought he was going to be run over, despite the fact that he was on the side of the vehicle when he discharged his firearm.
The officer repeated that rationalization multiple times to fellow officers and dispatchers, as the television station reports:
Tensing: “I thought he was going to run me over.”
Other officer: “You OK?”
Tensing: “I’m good.”
Later, Tensing speaks to the dispatcher:
“Thirty-three, I’m not injured. I almost got ran over by the car. He took off on me. I discharged one round. Struck the male in the head.”
More Tensing on the video:
“I just got tangled in the car. I thought I was going to get run over.”
“He just took off on me, man. I thought he was going to run me over.”
“I think I’m OK. He was just dragging me. I thought I was going to get ran over. I was trying to stop him.”
“Ugh, I thought he was going to run me over. He was dragging me…Yeah, he took off on me. My hand was caught inside.”
“God, he was dragging me man … I’m good. I just got my hand and my arm caught inside.”
“I think I’m good [no injuries]. I missed his tires, luckily. I was just getting [dragged] by him.”
Tensing’s body camera footage has been viewed by Cincinnati, Ohio Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell and City Manager Harry Black. Blackwell and Black called the footage “not good” and “disturbing.” They’re also hesitant to release the footage in fear that major protests and riots could follow.
The University of Cincinnati officials ordered a shut down of the campus in anticipation of uproar from students and Cincy citizens alike. Ironically, the attorney who successfully exonerated self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in the death of Travyon Martin in Sanford, Fla., is the same attorney will represent the aggrieved black family in a case against the officer, the University of Cincinnati and the city.
WARNING: This video contains graphic footage of the stop