University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing was indicted on a murder charge Wednesday in the shooting death of Sam DuBose, an unarmed black motorist. On July 19, Tensing fatally shot DuBose during a traffic stop that was conducted on the basis of an allegedly missing license plate from DuBose's vehicle. Tensing said that he "feared for his life" and was "forced to fire his weapon" because he thought he was going to be run over.
Following the Hamilton County grand jury's decision to indict Tensing on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges, Mark O'Mara — an attorney for the DuBose family — said that he thought an indictment might not have been achieved had there not been footage of the incident.
We've now made a huge first step because in a situation where sometimes people believe that officers are not held accountable for their actions. In this case, one is being held accountable. So Cincinnati is showing the rest of us how to do this right.
Tensing was fired from his job as a UC police officer and surrendered himself to authorities at Hamilton County Courthouse following the indictment announcement. He is expected to be arraigned on Thursday, and Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said in a news conference that if convicted, Tensing faces the possibility of 15 years to life in prison, but not the death penalty. Deters said:
This is the most asinine act I've ever seen a police officer make — totally unwarranted. It's an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless.
Although university and city officials did not talk about the future of the University of Cincinnati's police department, DuBose's death rekindled a conversation about whether or not UC police officers are necessary for the safety of the community, as well as contributed to the ongoing national discussion of racist police brutality. Deters in particular was vehement in his call for the university to leave the "law enforcement business."
Before the indictment decision was released, Black Lives Matter activist Brian Taylor told WLWT Cincinnati that the movement would respond no matter what the grand jury decided, because an indictment would not guarantee justice.
If there is an indictment, as we know around the country, they don't automatically lead to convictions, so we will be pushing for a conviction. Our plan is to honor the aggravation and the desire for justice from the community and to give a vehicle for people to be able to express their discontent.
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