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University Of Cincinnati Police Officer Indicted In Killing Of Black Motorist


In Cincinnati today, a white campus police officer has been arrested and charged for shooting an unarmed black motorist during a traffic stop. The prosecutor in the case is calling it a murder. As Tana Weingartner of member station WVXU reports, the indictment came quickly.

TANA WEINGARTNER, BYLINE: University of Cincinnati police Officer Ray Tensing pulled over Sam DuBose just off campus on July 19 for a license plate violation. Only minutes later, DuBose was dead. Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters calls the shooting horrible, senseless and totally unwarranted.

JOE DETERS: I've been doing this for over 30 years. This is the most asinine act I've ever seen a police officer make.

WEINGARTNER: A just-released body cam video of the incident shows Tensing telling DuBose he's being pulled over for not having a front license plate as is required in Ohio. DuBose shows the officer the plate is in his glove box, but he's unable to find his driver's license. The officer spots a bottle of gin in the car, which DuBose hands to him. It appears unopened. Tensing again asks for DuBose's driver's license. The video appears to show Tensing reaching into the car as it starts rolling slowly forward. Next, there's the pop of what sounds like a gunshot. DuBose was pronounced dead at the scene. The initial report filed by officers suggested Tensing had been dragged by DuBose's car. Prosecutor Joe Deter says people may want to believe DuBose was being violent, but he says that's clearly not what the video shows.

DETERS: He wasn't dealing with someone who was wanted for murder, OK? He was dealing with someone who didn't have a front license plate. If he's starting to roll away, just seriously let him go. I mean, you don't have to shoot him in the head.

WEINGARTNER: A grand jury indicted Tensing today on one count of murder and one count of voluntary manslaughter. The University of Cincinnati fired Officer Tensing after the indictment. Shortly after the shooting, the school pulled its officers back and they are no longer patrolling off campus. DuBose's mother, Audrey, says she's relying heavily on her faith for strength to cope with losing her son. She also says she's ready to stand up for other victims of police violence.

AUDREY DUBOSE: My son was killed by a cop unjustly. I got to know there is many more people out there's being killed by cops unjustly.

WEINGARTNER: Riots rocked Cincinnati in 2001 when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager. A police community collaborative worked out after those events is still in place and has been held up as a model for other communities facing unrest. Sam DuBose's family is asking that any response to the indictment be nonviolent. His brother Aubrey DuBose says Sam was a peaceful man.

AUBREY DUBOSE: He lived peaceful, and in his death, we want to remain peaceful. Let God fight the battle. You know, I'm a lifetime Cincinnatian. I remember, you know, 2001. You know, we don't want none of that. That shouldn't happen. That's bad.

WEINGARTNER: Ray Tensing is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow morning in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. For NPR News, I'm Tana Weingartner in Cincinnati. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.