On July 19th, 2015, Cincinnati community member Samuel DuBose was pulled over for not having a front license plate on his vehicle. The University of Cincinnati police officer who stopped him was Ray Tensing. When interacting with Officer Tensing following the stop, DuBose did not produce a license and the two exchanged words. DuBose started the ignition of his vehicle and Officer Tensing shot DuBose in the head, killing him.
Tensing was wearing a body camera during the incident and the footage from that camera was released yesterday. While Tensing claimed he was dragged by the car and feared for his life, Hamilton County prosecuting attorney Joe Deters, who released the footage, says the video refutes this account, only showing that DuBose was “simply slowly rolling away.” Following review of the footage, Officer Tensing was fired from the department, jailed, and indicted on charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter.
Prosecuting attorney Deters called the footage crucial evidence and asserted that Officer Tensing tried to mislead investigators regarding the incident. A lawyer for the DuBose family noted that he did not believe Officer Tensing would have been indicted if there had not been video footage of the incident and calls the use of the footage and ensuing indictment “a huge first step” in holding officers accountable for their actions.
This case demonstrates the importance of using body cameras, and the footage they produce, in that it can lead to a clearer picture of contentious and, in this case, fatal incidents that require consequences. The importance of these tools and the accountability they can promote led the Minneapolis Police Department to conduct a pilot body camera project starting last year and plan a roll out of an official body camera program scheduled for March 2016.
To this end, the Department has asked the Police Conduct Oversight Commission to makes recommendations on the official body camera policy that will be used for the roll out. The Commission is in the process of conducting best practices research on body camera policy and asking for public input. Three community listening sessions have already taken place, but if you were unable to participate in those sessions, the Commission still wants to know what you think about body cameras and how you think the policy must be shaped. Please leave any comments in the comment section of this blog post, or send them to Commission’s email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments will be accepted and incorporated in the PCOC’s final report and recommendations until Friday August 7th. For more information on the types of issues being considered in a body camera policy, please see Questions on Body Camera Implementation.
For more information on the shooting death of Samuel DuBose, please see a small sample of the most recent news articles:
- The Atlantic: Body-Camera Footage Gets an Officer Indicted for Murder
- New York Times: University of Cincinnati Officer Indicted in Shooting Death of Samuel Dubose
- CNN: University cop indicted for murder in shooting of motorist Samuel DuBose
- Minneapolis Star Tribune: Cincinnati officer pleads not guilty to murder in shooting of motorist during traffic stop