By Steve Bittenbender
CINCINNATI (Reuters) – A judge on Thursday set a bond of $1 million for a former University of Cincinnati campus police officer charged with the murder of an unarmed black man he had stopped for a missing license plate.
Ray Tensing, 25, pleaded not guilty at the arraignment before Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas Judge Megan Shanahan in Cincinnati. After she set bail, some people in the courtroom began applauding; she ordered them to stop.
The next court date was set for August 19.
Tensing was indicted on Wednesday on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges in the July 19 death of Samuel DuBose, 43, who was shot in the head during a traffic stop. Tensing, who turned himself in and spent the night in jail in isolation, appeared in court in gray, striped prison clothes.
The incident was the latest in a series of fatal police confrontations in the United States that have raised questions about law enforcement’s use of force against minorities.
In announcing the indictment on Wednesday, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters said Tensing was not dragged by DuBose’s car as the officer had claimed to justify the shooting.
Deters also said he was investigating a second officer who backed Tensing’s version of the traffic stop.
Deters’ office on Thursday released videos from body cameras worn by two university police officers who witnessed the shooting. The videos show the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
On the video from the body camera worn by Tensing’s fellow officer, Phillip Kidd, Tensing repeatedly says he was dragged by DuBose’s car and that he got his arm stuck in the car. Kidd is heard saying, “Yeah, I saw that.”
A few minutes later, an officer from Cincinnati’s city police force asks Kidd whether he saw Tensing being dragged, and Kidd responds, “Yes.” In the official incident report on DuBose’s shooting, officer Kidd was quoted as saying he saw Tensing being dragged.
Kidd could not immediately be reached and it was not known whether he has legal representation. The Fraternal Order of Police in Cincinnati did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the content of the videos.
Tensing’s body-camera video was released on Wednesday and showed the traffic stop and the shooting. After failing to provide a driver’s license at Tensing’s request, DuBose tried to prevent Tensing from opening the car door as the officer ordered him to remove his seat belt.
The car started slowly rolling forward as Tensing reached in and yelled for him to stop. The officer pulled his gun and fired once, killing DuBose.
Tensing was fired by university police on Wednesday. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
His attorney, Stew Mathews, told reporters that Tensing had feared for his life during the altercation with DuBose, so he drew his weapon. He said it was possible Tensing’s family could raise the 10 percent of the bond needed to release him from custody.
“He’s feeling like he’s been run over by a train,” Mathews said.
Terina Allen, the victim’s sister, said the video evidence from Tensing proved that DuBose was a peaceful man.
“Sam would have never did to that police officer what that police officer did to Sam,” Allen said.
(Additional reporting by Fiona Ortiz and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
Photo: Terina Allen, the sister of Samuel Dubose, speaks to the press outside of the Hamilton County Courthouse in Cincinnati, Ohio, July 30, 2015. (REUTERS/William Philpott)