CINCINNATI – "This is, without question, a murder."
A grand jury indicted former University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said Wednesday.
Tensing shot and killed Samuel DuBose during an off-campus traffic stop in Mount Auburn July 19, according to police reports. Tensing pulled over DuBose because he didn’t have a front license plate on his car.
If convicted, Tensing faces a sentence of at least 15 years and as much as life in prison on the murder charge and as much as 11 years on the manslaughter charge. Deters said he would seek life in prison for Tensing.
Deters asked, “Can you imagine the outrage you would have if this was your kid, or this was your brother?”
Tensing wasn't dragged, as earlier police reports had indicated, according to Deters. The car started rolling forward slowly, and after a "very short period of time" Tensing had drawn his gun and shot DuBose. Deters said Tensing fell backward after he shot DuBose in the head.
“This guy didn’t deserve to be tased, and he certainly didn’t deserve to be shot in the head,” Deters said.
DuBose was dead instantly.
“This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make,” Deters said. “It was unwarranted. It’s an absolute tragedy that, in the year 2015, anyone would behave in this manner."
Tensing was fired, according to UC President Santa Ono.
Deters said Tensing "should never have been a police officer."
Stew Mathews, the attorney representing Tensing, told WCPO earlier this week that he expected Tensing would be indicted.
Tensing was “upset and depressed,” according to Mathews.
"He's not doing well. He feels terrible about it. He didn't become a police officer to go out and shoot anyone," Mathews said.
If Tensing is not convicted, he could still face a civil suit. DuBose's family has hired attorney Mark O’Mara, best known for his defense of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin, to represent them.
Since the killing, protestors demanded that Tensing be indicted and that officials release the body camera footage from the incident. The case has drawn criticism from groups like Black Lives Matter because Tensing is white and DuBose was black.
The last time a police officer in Cincinnati was charged in a shooting death was in 2001. In that case, officer Stephen Roach was acquitted on charges of negligent homicide.