CINCINNATI – Does it matter how far Ray Tensing was from the spot where he shot Sam DuBose when he picked himself off the street, or how he got there?
It does if you’re Tensing’s defense attorney and the prosecution witness just showed the jury the shocking, dramatic moment when Tensing fired one shot into DuBose’s head on Tensing’s own body camera video.
After Grant Fredericks, a forensic video expert, completed his compelling frame-by-frame breakdown of Tensing’s video Tuesday morning, it was Stew Mathews’ turn to try to find holes in Fredericks’ testimony. Or if he couldn’t, then to divert the jury’s attention to something else.
Mathews tried to change the focus from what was on the body cam video to what wasn't by raising questions that Tensing’s video didn’t answer.
Fredericks was able to show and pinpoint -- with precision -- when the University of Cincinnati police officer tried to open DuBose’s car door during the fatal traffic stop, when he reached through the open window and grabbed DuBose’s shoulder belt, when he pulled his gun and when he fired – all in less than three seconds. Fredericks showed all of that the while demonstrating his contention that Tensing was never dragged and never fell.
Fredericks said DuBose’s car only moved in the nine-tenths of a second before the shot – and only a few feet.
That left Mathews, who’s arguing Tensing’s account that he was dragged and falling and fearing that he would be run over by DuBose’s car -- and that’s why he shot DuBose on that July 19, 2015 evening -- to move Fredericks to other topics that his presentation and the video didn’t cover.
How did Tensing end up so far away on the ground after shooting DuBose if he wasn’t dragged?
How did DuBose’s car move around the car parked in front of it if DuBose’s car didn’t turn left into Tensing?
How would two other UC officers who arrived to back up Tensing hear DuBose’s tires squealing, then hear a shot, as they testified?
WATCH Grant Fredericks’ Tuesday testimony below:
Fredericks had only been on the stand for 20 minutes – wrapping up his polished presentation that began Monday – when Mathews began his 80-minute cross-examination. It started with Mathews accusing Fredericks of Monday morning quarterbacking and using 20/20 hindsight. But the former police officer, now used by the FBI to train forensic video analysts, kept his cool, even when Mathews asked if he had ever been wrong in a video presentation.
“I don't know of a case when I've been wrong when I've testified,” Fredericks replied.
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Later, when Fredericks was explaining that he had to “correct” elements in the video, specifically because the encoder changes the time frame, Mathews interjected: "So the video you presented here is not accurate?”
“No, the video I presented is accurate,” Fredericks said.
Mathews brought his own every man’s slideshow -- a CD of images from the video -- and clicked through them, questioning Fredericks on what the image showed.
Despite Mathews’ repeated attempts to get Fredericks to say otherwise, Fredericks insisted that none of the images showed Tensing falling or getting his arm caught in the car. To the first question, Fredericks always pointed out that Tensing’s body camera stayed focused above the plane of the car window.
It wasn't until after the shooting demonstration that Mathews might have won any points with the jury. He showed an image from Tensing’s camera after the officer had fallen onto the pavement. It showed Tensing's feet just a few inches from the car as it moved past. Other images showed Tensing rolling on the street and finally pulling himself up and chasing DuBose’s runaway car.
Mathews asked Fredericks to estimate how far Tensing must have moved from the time the car began to move – nine-tenths of second before the shot -- to the time Tensing picked himself up in the middle of the street, south of where the traffic stop started.
At first, Fredericks said, Tensing “doesn’t go downward, so he is moving on his feet. I don’t know if his body changes (or) shifts balance, but there is movement forward with the vehicle during that 0.9 seconds.
“I don’t know where he landed, but from where he started to where he began to get up, I’d say about 24 feet, in that area...20 to 24 feet. I don’t know how far that would take a person of his size (6-feet, 2 inches), to go down, turn and roll and get up.”
Mathews will use that "24 feet" quote later to try to convince the jury that Tensing never would have moved that far if he hadn’t been dragged.
Fredericks wouldn’t agree to Mathews’ argument that DuBose’s car “turned” left into the office even after Mathews tried three times. Mathews showed a video image that appeared to show DuBose’s left front tire and steering wheel turned slightly to the left during the traffic stop.
Fredericks cited the “grade” in the road and said the car could have turned on its own once it accelerated with DuBose mortally wounded at the wheel.
As for the acceleration and when it happened – before or after the shot – Fredericks said he couldn’t separate the sound of DuBose’s car from the sound of the car passing it at the time of the shooting. A police investigator testified last week that they canvassed the area but couldn’t find that car or determine who was driving it.
Fredericks said he would have to test both cars’ engines – a practical impossibility.
When Mathews asked if Fredericks believed UC police officers Philip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt were lying when they said they heard the shot after the sound of squealing tires, Fredericks said no, they might have heard squealing tires “from somewhere else.”
Mathews will put his own forensic video expert on the stand this week.
For complete trial coverage, visit wcpo.com/TensingTrial