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Ohio grand jury indicts university police officer for murder

The New York Times is reporting,

A University of Cincinnati police officer was indicted on murder charges on Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a driver this month.

In the indictment handed down by a grand jury in Hamilton County, the officer, Ray Tensing, is accused of killing the driver, Samuel DuBose, during a traffic stop near the campus on July 19. At a news conference, the county prosecutor, Joe Deters, said that Officer Tensing “purposely killed” Mr. DuBose after the officer lost his temper.

According to the officer’s video above, which was recorded by the officer’s body cam, Tensing stopped DuBose because he was driving a vehicle without a front license plate, which is a traffic violation. The initial observation and the stop took place off campus. Although University of Cincinnati police officers have authority to stop and cite people off campus for traffic violations, they rarely do so. The county prosecutor, Joe Deters, characterized the stop as “what we call in the vernacular a pretty chicken-crap stop.” In my opinion, this is also an apt description of Texas State Trooper Brian Encina’s stop of Sandra Bland on July 10th for failing to signal a lane change.

When Samuel DuBose was unable to produce a driver’s license, Officer Tensing started opening the driver’s side door and ordered him to get out of the car. Instead of complying, Sam DuBose pulled the door shut and attempted to drive away. Tensing drew his gun and shot him in the head at point-blank range killing him.

This is similar to what happened in North Charleston, South Carolina last April when Patrolman Michael Slager, who is white, shot Walter Scott, who is black, four times in the back killing him as Scott attempted to run away after a traffic stop.

Another similarity is both officers lied about the incident. For example, Tensing told police that he struggled with DuBose. The video disproves that.

The legal rule in both cases is the same: A police officer may not use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect unless he reasonably believes the suspect is armed and presents a danger to the officer or to the public. Patrolman Slager and now Officer Tensing have been indicted for murder because the people they killed were not armed and there was no reason to believe they were dangerous to others.

Mr. DuBose was 43-years-old. He was the father of 10 children.

Officer Tensing was 25-years-old. He had been a police officer for four years. He was fired today by the campus police.

He turned himself in.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.