Sam Dubose (1971-2015) was an unarmed Black American man who was shot dead by police in Cincinnati, Ohio after a Routine Traffic Stop.
According to the police report:
“Officer Tensing stated that he almost was run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot the driver.”
Officer Phillip Kidd said he saw the car drag Tensing and saw Tensing fire his gun.
Officer Eric Weibel said it appeared to him that:
“the back of [Tensing’s] pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.”
Dubose was stopped for a missing number plate on the front of his car. There was one on the back.
Audrey Dubose, his mother, said of his past encounters with police
“He got stopped a lot, but he never tried to fight.”
She prayed to God for the truth to come out – and hired Mark O’Mara, George Zimmerman’s old lawyer.
The Associated Press went to court under Ohio’s open records law to try to get Tensing’s body-camera video.
There were street protests.
But the city feared riots if it made the video public – like the ones in 2001 after city police killed Timothy Thomas, also Black, also unarmed.
Within just ten days, Joe Deters, the county prosecutor, got a grand jury to charge Tensing with murder and had him arrested. Only then did he make the video public, on July 29th:
The video shows Tensing repeatedly asking Dubose for his driver’s licence. Dubose is sitting in his car looking for it.
Then Tensing, telling Dubose to take off his safety belt, tries to open the car door! Dubose tries to keep the car door closed and starts his engine.
Tensing reaches into the car and tells him, “Stop!” – and then shoots him in the face (fuzzed out in the video).
Tensing is not being dragged or run over. Nothing like that. Instead, he falls backwards as the car speeds away and crashes down the street.
In talking about the murder charge, Deters used words and phrases like:
“a pretty chicken-crap stop”,
“He should have never been a police officer.”
“This doesn’t happen in the United States, okay?”
“I’m treating him like a murderer.”
“Could you imagine the outrage you would have if this was your kid, if this was your brother, over a stop like this?”
Amazing stuff, coming from a White district attorney.
Nor is Tensing enjoying paid leave, the customary reward for killing unarmed Black people: UC fired him!
But what if there had been no bodycam video? Or what if Tensing had been a city cop, not some wannabe UC cop playing Rambo off campus?
In the US in 2015 so far, police have killed over 550 people.
This is only the fourth time anyone has been charged with a crime.
– Abagond, 2015.
Update (November 14th 2016): The trial ended in a hung jury. Joe Deters, the county prosecutor, thought he had proved it was murder, but had persuaded only three of the 12 jurors. The jury was made up of two Blacks and ten Whites. At the time of the killing it turns out that Officer Tensing was wearing a T-shirt under his uniform that had a Confederate flag:
Deters will make a decision about a possible retrial, probably on lesser charges, by the end of the month.
- The extremely incomplete list of unarmed Blacks killed by police
- Other posts on cases of Ohio police brutality
- George Zimmerman
- grand jury
- the police