What The Other Cops Said About Sam DuBose’s Murder
July 29, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — The video taken from the body cam worn by Cincinnati University police officer Ray Tensing was, to my eye, confusing. There was no lead up, no segue from a fairly ordinary traffic stop to a death. Other videos smack you in the face. This one left me confused.
It did not, however, confuse Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, who did not hold back his disgust at Tensing’s conduct when announcing his indictment for murder.
“It was a senseless, asinine shooting,” Mr. Deters said at a news conference, using stark terms to denounce the July 19 episode, Officer Tensing’s claims about it and the officer himself. “This office has probably reviewed upwards of 100 police shootings, and this is the first time we’ve thought, ‘This is without question a murder.’ ”
And for context, or perhaps better stated as being a grown-up among children with guns, Deters said:
“He wasn’t dealing with someone who was wanted for murder,” he said. “He was dealing with someone who didn’t have a front license plate. This was, in the vernacular, a pretty chicken-crap stop.”
But as “chicken-crap” as the stop may have been, it was by no means insignificant that a police officer, even of the university flavor, killed a man. And into gear went the machinery.
“If it were not for that video camera, Sam would be no different than all of the other [unindicted police shootings of black men], because the second officer was ready to corroborate every lie that the first officer said in the report,” [DuBose’s sister, Terina] Allen said.
After an encounter, cops file reports. And the report of Eric Weibel, an officer on the scene, is quite remarkable. Tensing claimed that he was dragged by DuBose, almost run over, when he was forced to shoot him once in the head. Weibel confirmed Tensing’s claim:
Officer Tensing stated that he almost was run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot the driver with his duty weapon (Sig Sauer P320). Officer Tensing stated that he fired a single shot. Officer Tensing repeated that he was being dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon.
Officer Kidd told me that he witnessed the Honda Accord drag Officer Tensing, and that he witnessed Officer Tensing fire a single shot.
After speaking with Officer Tensing, he complained of pain to his left arm.
Looking at Officer Tensing’s uniform, I could see that the back of his pants and shirt looked as if it had been dragged over a rough surface.
A righteous shoot, but for the fact that it’s all lies. Complete, total bullshit, cobbled together to support a brother in blue’s story that he was forced to shoot to save his life.
And but for the video, it would have worked. Like a charm. The shooter explains his justification, and the backup confirms that it happened exactly that way. Except for that damn video that ruined everything.
The police report and the various embellishments or outright lies Tensing’s brothers in arms told in order to back up his account are the clearest evidence supporting Allen’s belief that her brother’s killer would not be facing prosecution without a video.
Or to be a little less circumspect, but for the video, they would be pinning a medal on Tensing’s chest for his bravery in this near-death experience. So little separates the moment of heroism from a needless murder.
That Ray Tensing’s fear, paranoia perhaps, kicked in instantaneously, causing him to pull a weapon and put a bullet in a man’s head, is one problem. That it was a black man is another. His blind leap to the First Rule of Policing, where the merest threat of a potential of harm caused him to kill, yet another.
But in a weird sense, Tensing’s conduct was that of a monumentally incompetent police officer. He was not cut out for the job, incapable of reacting to the slightest fear with less than lethal force.
But the other two cops? More than happy to lie to cover their buddy’s butt after he needlessly murdered the man?
Deters made a point to emphasize that the video clearly demonstrates that the shooting was not standard operating procedure, or the appropriate split-second decision of a cop who was just trying to protect himself. “He wasn’t dealing with somebody who was wanted for murder. He was dealing with somebody who didn’t have a front license plate.”
But for the video, no one would have given any of this a second thought.