On Thursday, Ray Tensing, the former University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot Samuel DuBose on July 19, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. Tensing stopped DuBose because of an alleged missing license tag, and claimed that he was forced to shoot the unarmed 43-year-old after he nearly ran him over. The video captured by the officer's body camera, however, doesn't show that Tensing was in any immediate danger. What's the maximum sentence Tensing could receive if found guilty of murder and voluntary manslaughter?
A grand jury indicted Tensing, 25, on Wednesday for the shooting, which Hamilton County prosecuting attorney Joseph T. Deters called "senseless" and "asinine." Deters said in a news conference: "It's an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner." On Thursday, Judge Megan Shanahan told Tensing that he could get life in prison for the murder charge if found guilty — the charge of voluntary manslaughter is a second option for jurors at trial, and would dictate a lesser sentence. The death penalty is legal in Ohio, but only applies to aggravated murder cases, and the death of DuBose does not fall under that category. The judge set Tensing's bond at $1 million and scheduled his next court date for August 19.
Stew Mathews, Tensing's attorney, told Judge Shanahan that Tensing has an "exemplary record and no prior criminal conviction." According to Mathews, Tensing is sorry about the shooting. Mathews told WCPO Cincinnati: "He's not doing well. He feels terrible about it. He didn't become a police officer to go out and shoot anyone." Tensing, who had been on the university's police force since April 2014, turned himself in for arrest and was fired from the university after the indictment was announced. The shooting happened just south of the campus, where university police and city police share jurisdiction, and Deters believes the university's police force should be disbanded, leaving the campus solely under Cincinnati Police watch.
The video from Tensing's body camera will be vital evidence in his trial, as authorities said it was crucial to his indictment. DuBose's family has said that if it weren't for the video, Tensing would have gone unpunished and DuBose's story would have remained unheard. At a news conference, DuBose's mother, Audrey, said: "Thank God because this one did not go unsolved and hidden ... Seeing that video let me know that my son did absolutely nothing." She said that if Tensing asked for forgiveness, she could forgive him.
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