Cincinnati Campus Cop Actually Charged With Murdering Black Guy On Camera, Weird
It's not every day that you see a prosecutor describe a cop's deadly actions as "a senseless, asinine shooting." But that's what Hamilton County prosecuting attorney Joseph T. Deters called the killing of Samuel Dubose, who was shot to death July 19 during a traffic stop. Ray Tensing, the University of Cincinnati campus policeman who shot Dubose, was indicted Wednesday on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. And like the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina, the murder charges almost certainly wouldn't have happened had the incident not been captured on video. Guess we have to take back a lot of our fears of Big Brother: The surveillance state is starting to look like the only way white cops will ever be prosecuted for shooting black people.
Deters said that the video captured by Tensing's vest camera clearly showed that Dubose didn't pose a threat toward Tensing, and that Tensing's post-shooting report of having been dragged by Dubose's car was a lie.
“This office has probably reviewed 100 police shootings, and this is the first time we’ve thought, ‘This is without question a murder,’” he said.
The body cam video shows what appears to be a fairly normal traffic stop. Tensing tells Dubose that he doesn't have a front license plate, and after some back and forth about where Dubose's driver's license is -- he eventually agrees he doesn't have it -- Tensing orders Dubose from the car. We'll borrow the rest of the description from the New York Times:
Officer Tensing starts to open the driver’s door and tells Mr. Dubose to remove his seatbelt; Mr. Dubose pulls the door closed again and restarts his car. What happens next is a flurry of blurred movements: The officer steps to his left; the engine can be heard revving; the officer reaches into the car with his left hand; he yells “stop” twice; he draws his gun with his right hand and fires once; and then he appears to fall backward.
From the moment the officer touches the door handle to the fatal shot, less than five seconds elapse. Then he runs after the car as it rolls off before coming to a crashing halt a short distance away, its driver fatally wounded or already dead.
Not shown on the video up top is the aftermath, where Tensing tells the other officers on the scene what he thinks happened:
“I almost got run over by the car,” the officer said. “He took off on me. I discharged one round. Shot the man in the head.”
And so other officers who were at the scene also reported that Tensing had been dragged by the car, although the video clearly shows him falling backward after shooting Dubose. County prosecutor Deters flatly accused Tensing of "making an excuse for the purposeful killing of another person,” saying that he believed Tensing "lost his temper because Mr. Dubose wouldn’t get out of his car.”
“He fell backwards after he shot him in the head,” the prosecutor said. “People want to believe that Mr. Dubose had done something violent toward the officer,” Mr. Deters added. “He did not.”
Even if the car had begun to roll, Mr. Deters said, no use of force was called for, and certainly not use of deadly force [...]
He wasn’t dealing with someone who was wanted for murder,” he said, adding that “this was, in the vernacular, a pretty chicken-crap stop.”
Despite the indictment by a grand jury, some rightwing blogs are spinning the story as yet another innocent white cop being persecuted for merely protecting his life. Stupidest Guest-Blogger on the Internet Kristinn Taylor offered his take at Gateway Pundit, describing the shooting as "the most recent incident of an unarmed Black man being killed by a white police officer while resisting arrest" and telling us what we really see on the video:
[The] officer started to open the driver side door and ordered DuBose to unbuckle his seatbelt. In response, DuBose pulled the door closed, turned on the car’s engine and stepped on the gas. The officer reached in the car, then fired one shot which hit DuBose in the head as the car pulled away and the officer fell on the ground.
Taylor is also very careful to quote a local TV station's rundown of Dubose's extensive criminal history, which mostly consisted of traffic violations, plus "drug abuse, domestic violence and assault," which proves he was a thug, though Taylor does acknowledge:
It is important to note that being charged with a crime does not mean that someone is guilty. In many cases, court documents show Dubose paid his fines. The two assault charges were dismissed.
Don't even think about reading the comments, which mostly explain that Dubose needed shooting because he was black and had 12 children, all of whom are certainly on welfare.
Needless to say, Tensing's attorney explains that his client feared for his life from the terrifying black man in the stupid-looking hat:
"The guy jams the keys in the ignition," Stew Mathews told CNN.
"Turns the car on, jams it in the drive and mashes the accelerator. He wasn't slowly pulling away. (Tensing) feared for his life. He thought he was going to be sucked under the car that was pulling away from him. He thought he was going to get sucked under and killed."
Let's just leave aside the tiny detail that you don't hear the engine rev until after Dubose has a bullet in his head.
So congratulations, America! For the second time, there may be a police shooting of an unarmed black person that almost everyone agrees was homicidal bullshit. A Washington Post analysis of police shootings notes that in the rare cases when police are actually charged in killings of civilians, prosecutions usually involve extraordinary circumstances: "a victim shot in the back, a video recording of the incident, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a coverup." Hooray for video -- although even with clear video evidence, rightwing bloggers are happy to blame the victim, because while every other aspect of government is always bad, cops never make mistakes, especially when they're shooting black people.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.