A University of Cincinnati police officer is in jail on a murder charge after his own body camera video showed him shooting an unarmed motorist in the head during a traffic stop, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer. Ray Tensing is the first officer in Cincinnati to face murder charges for killing someone in the line of duty. The video was crucial evidence to the grand jurors who indicted Tensing, and it stunned city officials, prosecutors and the relatives of shooting victim Samuel DuBose. It was a reminder that video, whether captured by witnesses on smart phones or by police officers themselves, is transforming the way fatal encounters involving police are investigated and perceived.
“It’s an absolute tragedy that anyone would behave in this manner,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said after releasing the video. “It was senseless. It’s just horrible. He purposefully killed him.” The video shows that Tensing, 25, who stopped DuBose on July 19 for driving without a front license plate, speaks to him for less than two minutes before the fatal shot is fired. When Tensing asks DuBose to take off his seat belt, DuBose says “I didn’t even do nothing” and turns his ignition key, starting the car. Tensing then reaches into the car with one hand and, with the other, fires a single shot into DuBose’s head. DuBose did not appear to be belligerent or aggressive toward the officer before the shot was fired. His lawyer, Stew Mathews, said Tensing feared he would be run over. Mathews said the murder charge was “absolutely unwarranted.” He added, “Murder is the purposeful killing of another. There wasn’t any purpose to kill this fella.” Cincinnati police prepared for possible protests and unrest.