Officers in the U.S. fatally shoot hundreds of people each year; only in a small margin of cases, however, does the officer face criminal charges.
A University of Cincinnati cop was indicted July 29 for the murder of 43-year-old Samuel Dubose, an unarmed black man. Dubose was shot and killed July 19 by Ray Tensing after being pulled over for allegedly missing a front license plate. Dubose reportedly did not attack the officer or carry any weapons.
Shortly after the announcement of indictment, body camera footage was released and shown at a press conference.
In the video, Tensing asks for Dubose’s license; when Dubose says he doesn’t have it on him, Tensing demands him to take off his seat belt.
“I didn’t do nothing, man,” Dubose says in the video. Just moments after turning the key to rev his engine, Tensing shoots Dubose in the head.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said the officer “purposely killed him” and “should never have been a police officer,” adding that the shooting was “senseless.”
“There are prosecutors who don’t always do the right thing,” said Mayor John Cranley at the press conference. “We are blessed and lucky that we had (Deters) in that position not to politicize the situation, but to do the right thing.”
Only two percent of police officers are indicted and of that two percent, 36 percent are actually convicted said Alexander Shelton, a member of UC Students Against Injustice.
“It is a great momentum and a great step forward,” Shelton said of the indictment. “But hopefully justice is served and hopefully a lot of reforms come out of this.”
Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati activist Christina Brown said she felt the indictment was progress, but not victory, adding that without video footage, Dubose likely would not have had a chance at justice.
“The fact that it took a video camera to prove that an innocent man didn’t deserve to die says a lot about our culture,” Brown said. “There’s a lot of work to be done, not just with changing policy, but with changing our culture.”
Cincinnati is currently pursuing a body camera program but is making sure that it is done in the most “economical and effective way,” said City Manager Harry Black at the press conference.
“I think it’s safe to say that this case is going to help the cause of body cameras across the country,” Cranley said at the conference.
It is unclear whether or not UCPD will officially merge with CPD as a result of Dubose’s death, but UC President Santa J. Ono said he hopes the two departments are able to arrive at a stronger collaboration that will “move the entire situation to a better place.”
Amenities are being worked out for the 13 children of Dubose, one of which is a UC student, Ono said.
“I met with the family today and we started to discuss those things; it will be a process where we talk with them and listen to their wishes,” Ono said at the conference. “Believe me, the best interest of that family is front and center with me.”
The indictment of Tensing is a historical moment not only for the United States, but also for Cincinnati. In 2001, an uprising occurred in Over-the-Rhine and downtown Cincinnati as a result of the killing of Timothy Thomas, an unarmed black 19-year-old. The CPD patrolman who killed Thomas did not suffer any sort of prosecution.
Family members of Dubose said Dubose wouldn’t want any riots and asked that any protests to remain peaceful.
“As a reformer, I am really saddened that this happened. I wish we were not talking about this at this particular time, but here we are at the hands of trained individuals, once again,” said long-time civil rights activist Iris Rowley. “I am hopeful that this gives us an opportunity to reform.”