POLITICS

Cincinnati Judge Drops Charges Against Officer Who Killed Motorist Samuel DuBose

Raymond Tensing, who shot the unarmed black man, remains under investigation by federal authorities.

A Cincinnati judge on Monday formally dropped murder and voluntary manslaughter charges against former University of Cincinnati police officer Raymond Tensing, who fatally shot an unarmed black motorist, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop in 2015.

Judge Leslie Ghiz dismissed the charges “with prejudice,” preventing the state of Ohio from arresting Tensing on the same charges again. She also denied a request from Tensing’s attorney to formally acquit the former officer.

“The defendant’s written judgment for acquittal is denied. However, the entry of dismissal on the indictment is granted at this time with prejudice,” the judge said. “So, that means they are no longer to be able to be brought by the state at this time.”

The judge’s rulings formally end the state’s prosecution of Tensing, a white officer who shot DuBose, 43, in the head after stopping the motorist for a missing front license plate. Two previous jury trials ended in deadlocks, and Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Deters announced last week he would not seek a third trial after some jurors in previous prosecutions revealed they would never convict a police officer.

U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said his office continues considering federal civil rights charges against Tensing, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer.

DuBose’s family members said they were disappointed in the prosecutor’s decision, and protesters took to the streets over the weekend.

“Retry, convict, send Ray Tensing to jail,” protesters chanted, according to Cincinnati.com. “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

Supporters of Tensing planned their own event on Monday evening, in the form of a prayer walk

Police body camera footage of the car stop captured Tensing questioning DuBose about his license, then trying to open the driver’s door. DuBose holds the door closed and starts the car. Tensing orders DuBose to stop and fires a single shot, striking DuBose in the head. 

Tensing said he was being dragged by the car and was in danger. Prosecutors contended the officer wasn’t being dragged.

Tensing was indicted on murder charges 10 days after the killing and was fired from his job. He pleaded not guilty. Since then, two juries have failed to reach verdicts, leading to mistrials. The second jury deliberated for more than 30 hours over five days.

DuBose’s death is one of many cases in which police have killed unarmed black people since the 2014 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, which sparked nationwide protests against police violence. Only two police officers have been convicted for shooting an unarmed black civilian since 2014, according to a New York Times analysis.

After DuBose’s death, Cincinnati City Council voted to suspend off-campus patrols by University of Cincinnati police for nearly a month, and the university reached a $5.3 million settlement with the family, including tuition-free education for DuBose’s children.

The family and several civil rights groups sounded a somber note in a statement responding to the prosecutor’s decision not to seek a retrial. 

“A murderer walks free with no accountability for taking the life of an unarmed black man.”

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