19 July 2015, Cincinnati, Ohio. Ray Tensing, a 25-year-old University of Cincinnati (UC) campus police officer is patrolling off campus when he spots a car with no front license plate. He pulls the driver, 43-year-old Samuel DuBose, over in a ‘routine’ traffic stop. Tensing asks DuBose for his driver’s license, and DuBose responds that he does have a license, but that he does not have it with him. Tensing opens the driver’s-side door, DuBose pulls it shut again and puts the car in gear, although he does not accelerate and the car is not moving. Tensing reaches into the car with his left hand, and with his right hand pulls out his pistol and shoots DuBose in the head. Tensing claims that the car was moving and that he was being dragged along after hooking his arm through the steering wheel and that was the reason he fired the shot. Footage from his body cam showed otherwise. In case you’re wondering, Officer Tensing is white, Samuel DuBose was black.
Ten days after the shooting, Tensing was indicted by Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. As a result, Tensing was fired by the UC Police Department. Tensing pleaded not guilty and was released on $1 million bond. The first trial began on 31 October 2016, and ended in a mistrial less than two weeks later when the jury deadlocked. The re-trial began on 25 May 2017 and ended in a mistrial on 23 June 2017. Less than a month later, Deters announced he was dropping the case.
Now, I hear you wondering why I am bringing this sad story to you today, nearly a year after the case was dropped. Well, because that wasn’t the end of the story. Yesterday afternoon, University of Cincinnati officials announced that they have paid Ray Tensing a settlement of $344,230 for back pay, benefits and legal fees. Although UC fired Tensing on 29 July 2015, apparently the police union contract states that employees charged with a felony are to be placed on paid leave until the court case is resolved. Tensing brought a contractual grievance to the university regarding his termination. In exchange for the settlement, Tensing agreed to resign his position as a university law enforcement officer and to never return to employment at UC.
A young white officer with only four years’ experience shoots an unarmed black man in the head, lies about the circumstances, gets off scot-free, and then sues his employer for over a quarter-million dollars … and gets it.
And Samuel DuBose is still dead.