It's extremely rare in America for law enforcement officers to be indicted for murder. And yet, with the help of some positively horrifying body camera footage that was released to the public on Wednesday, the status quo didn't protect University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing. As detailed by The Guardian, Tensing is now in custody following his indictment for the murder of 43-year-old Sam Dubose, and his mugshot has been released as well.
Leading up to the announcement and the video's release, it was apparent that Cincinnati officials knew full well how serious the situation was. But even so, it's hard to overstate how profoundly grisly and horrifying the footage of Dubose's death is — nothing short of a murder indictment, quite frankly, would've fit the bill. If you're curious to see it yourself, proceed with caution, because it's extremely upsetting.
It's also perhaps the sole reason that Tensing now sits in custody, given how hard it usually is to get grand juries to indict police in general, much less for murder. Even last year's on-camera chokehold death of Eric Garner proved insufficient to move a grand jury to indict. So maybe this is the grim, baseline burden of proof: a video of a police officer shooting an unarmed man in the head for no apparent reason.
The video of Dubose's killing — captured from start to finish by the camera affixed to Tensing's uniform at the time — had been the subject of a lot of contention leading up to it's release. Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters had wanted to keep it under wraps until the grand jury process played out, and he was ultimately successful. The footage was released to the public on Wednesday, at the same time that Tensing's murder indictment was announced.
People want to believe that Mr. Dubose did something violent to the officer, he did not. He did not at all. And, I feel so sorry for his family, and what they lost. ... I think [Tensing] lost his temper, and when you see this, you will not believe how quickly he pulls his gun and shoots him in the head. It's maybe a second. It's incredible.
It's hard to know what exactly will come next, beyond the basic reality that Tensing will face a murder trial. If convicted, as detailed by Cincinnati.com, the 25-year-old would face a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.