30 Jul 2015

US police officer charged with murder of unarmed black man

As police officer Ray Tensing is charged with murder, prosecutors release shocking body-cam footage of him shooting Samuel DuBose which apparently contradicts his account of what happened.

A US university-campus police officer has been charged with murder after shooting dead an unarmed black man earlier this month.

Ray Tensing stopped stopped Samuel DuBose for a missing front-license plate in Cincinnati. The body-camera footage released today shows Mr Tensing shooting Mr DuBose at point-blank range after an apparently calm exchange.

The white police officer went on to claim he was dragged by Mr DuBose’s car, but this is not seen in the footage, which appears to show him fall to the ground and then run towards the place where DuBose’s vehicle crashed after he had been shot.

‘Senseless and unnecessary’

Announcing the decision to charge the officer, prosecutor Joseph Deters called the shooting of Samuel DuBose, 43, “senseless” and totally unnecessary.

Mr Deters said “I’ve been doing this for 30 years.. this is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make, totally unwarranted.”

Appearing at the Hamilty county court in Cincinnati, Ray Tensing pleaded not guilty to murder. The judge set bail at $1m and the next hearing will take place on 19 August.

The incident was the latest in a series of fatal police confrontations across the United States that have raised questions about police use of force against minorities.

Video evidence

Of the many controversial killings of unarmed black men by the police, the charge against Ray Tensing (pictured) is only the second charge brought this year.

In April Officer Michael Slager was charged with the murder of father of four Walter Scott.

In both incidents, video evidence of the events was made public.

In the Tensing case the police reports were contradictory to the footage, including witness reports from Ray Tensing’s colleagues backing up his version of events.

The family had sought the release of the video and hundreds of protesters marched on Sunday in Cincinnati demanding it be made public. Prosecutor Deters had said he did not want to taint the grand jury by releasing it before they reviewed the case.

On Wednesday, Audrey Dubose, the victim’s mother, praised the indictment, and said said she could forgive Tensing for her son’s death.

Her response was emblematic of current lack of trust between America’s black community and the police. She said: “I’m so thankful that everything was uncovered… I thought it was going to be covered up.”