Police Abuse

University of Cincinnati Police Officer Shoots and Kills Driver That May Have Been Speeding Away

Pulled over for a missing a front license plate

|

family photo

On Sunday, 43-year-old Samuel Dubose was stopped by a University of Cincinnati cop for driving without a license plate at the front of the vehicle (the incident didn't happen on campus, but the city apparently has a "mutual aid agreement" that permits university cops to operate off-campus), and was eventually shot once in the head by the police officer, Ray Tensing.

 Cincinnati police, who are investigating the incident, say that the cop asked Dubose for his license but received a bottle of alcohol instead, after which "there was a struggle at the door" before Dubose sped away. Police say Tensing then fired a single shot, killing the drive. Initial reports said Tensing sustained injuries—according to police, those came when he fell to the ground after firing his gun, which bruised his leg and tore his uniform.

The police version of events seem to suggest the cop shot Dubose as he was speeding away, in which case it's difficult to see how the cop could even claim he feared for his life. No worries—his job privileges give him 24 to 48 hours to talk to his attorneys before making an official statement. That ought to be enough time to concoct a story that makes the shooting appear justified. Tensing was suspended with pay. The city says it has body cam footage from Tensing but won't release it until their investigation is over. This is not, obviously, standard operating procedure when cop have video of a crime that doesn't include a law enforcement official.

CNN reports Dubose has more than 60 arrests on his record, so the incident is already entering familiar territory, debates over who's an angel, as if your record could justify otherwise criminal action by a op, racism (Dubose is black, the cop is white), whether people who don't obey cops deserve to die, pretty much everything but the important issues: why Tensing got 48 hours to get his story straight before speaking to investigators, why the university can't fire him unless there's some kind of conviction, why the body camera won't be release now when surveillance footage of crimes generally is, and what kind of rules of engagement police, campus or otherwise, should operate under when they're in the streets. 

NEXT: Libertarians, Conservatives, and 'Mischaracterizing' the 14th Amendment

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The police version of events seem to suggest the cop shot Dubose as he was speeding away

    Unlikely.

  2. A lot of states don’t require a front license plate, including mine. I guess that’s grounds to get pulled over in every other state. Good to know.

    1. I’ve been pulled over for it before here in Texas. Then I saw the officers go back to their car and thumb through a manual as if researching stuff to bust me on. In the end they let me go with a ticket. This was about 12 years ago. Today, I feel lucky to be alive.

      1. Just checked out a map of states that do and don’t require license plates. Every state that borders Ohio has no front license plate, including Kentucky. Being Cincinnati, you would expect to see lots of Kentucky vehicles every day. You wouldn’t think a missing front plate would get a second glance.

        Same is true of Texas, by the way. Every state that borders it has no front license plate requirement.

        1. how else would they have an excuse to pull over out of state drivers who will probably just mail in payment for the ticket? ESPECIALLY black drivers.

    2. Yeah, it’s hard to believe you would really get hassled for this. CT didn’t require front plates when I was a kid, and NY did, and I would never have been pulled over there.

      1. I did a little poking around. Some of the states with a two plate requirement only enforce the requirement on in-state cars. The requirement doesn’t apply to cars with out-of-state plates.

    3. $5 says that within the next few years, Congress attempts to remediate this problem by filing a highway bill that makes front license plates mandatory in all states.

      1. $20 says that within the next few years, Congress attempts to remediate this problem by filing a highway bill that makes RFID mandatory in all states.

  3. Initial reports said Tensing sustained injuries?according to police, those came when he fell to the ground after firing his gun, which bruised his leg and tore his uniform.

    Wow. It’s be funny if someone didn’t just get shot in the head.

    1. Panic fire while trying to run away?

  4. Is the 48 hour thing really an issue? If you are arrested you don’t have to ever make a statement if you don’t want to, cop or not.

    That said, he sounds like a murderer.

    1. You don’t have to incriminate, but I think you would have to make a statement claiming your right against self incrimination… right? The statement being you are refusing to speak?

      However, as a workplace matter, and not a criminal one, NOT making a statement in a fatal shooting- assuming such statements are policy and procedure, is probably a fire-able offense… hahahahah! Sorry, couldn’t keep a straight face.

      1. if it’s like they do in Northern VA, they don’t have to talk to those who are investigating any criminal action. here the cold case squad handles the criminal aspects. but they do have to talk to internal affairs after 48 as a condition of their employment. and that investigation doesn’t touch on criminality — just whether department procedures/protocals were followed. they are two somewhat concurrent inquires.

    2. Ray Tensing is on video shooting a man in the head and he is not under arrest. A non-cop with that kind of evidence against him would be cooling his heels in a jail cell in less than a day, provided that he survived the arrest.

      The point is that the rules don’t apply to those who enforce the rules.

    3. Yes, it does matter, because typically the the state can’t use a statement obtained in violation of these police officers’ bill of rights in a criminal proceeding.

    4. Is the 48 hour thing really an issue? If you are arrested you don’t have to ever make a statement if you don’t want to, cop or not

      Popehat on Maryland’s law enforcement bill of rights, which could answer some of your questions

    5. True, but, the difference is the non-cop who chooses not to talk is arrested, taken to a small room, growled at in shifts for hours by the cops, even if you ask for an attorney they will drag their feet and obfuscate, threaten that ‘if we are going to that much trouble maybe we should get your son/other family member in hear to answer a few questions’
      Then they stick you in a cell meant to hold 2 people with 4-5 other prisoners. You get to sleep on pallet on the floor for a week or so until it comes your turn for one of the two beds, which are less comfortable than the floor was. Meanwhile your family is getting the run around trying to bail you out.

      In other words, they will put a shit ton of pressure on YOU in this situation, the cop gets to go home to ‘de-stress’ talk in private with his lawyer and/or union rep, and amble in after a few days of ‘getting themselves together’ to go on record saying ‘no comment’

  5. …according to police, those came when he fell to the ground after firing his gun, which bruised his leg and tore his uniform.

    Must have been quite the recoil. And usually they just wet their pants during panic fire.

  6. We have waaaayy too many cops in this country.

    1. When I visit my dad in western NC (a medium sized town near Asheville), you can see probably 4 or 5 cops on a 30 minute drive around town. It seems like they have total cop saturation.

      And their crime rate is relatively high for the area.

      Hhhmmmm…

      1. Been wanting to visit Asheville. Love the mountains.

        1. I just got back. Do the Asheville brewery tour. You can thank me later. Also I saw few cops in Asheville. The guy at the brewery told me I was just staying in the right part of town.

          1. Also eat at chestnut and I hear 12 bones is good for BBQ, but I didn’t try it myself.

            1. Sweet:) thanks!

            2. Where abouts did you stay ? Cause that sounds like where ill want to be:)

              1. We stayed in a holiday inn outside of downtown Asheville and took uber to get around Town. It wasn’t a great hotel but I don’t really care where I sleep as long as it’s clean and safe.

                1. Sweet. Thanks!

          2. Try Hendersonville. A cop for every block, I swear.

            1. Is that where your dad is. Does he like living there? Been thinking about moving closer to the hills.

              1. It’s a nice little town. If it were me, I’d look up further in the hills, like Marshall or Mars Hill. Or even Bryson City.

                1. Cool. Thanks:) I’ll check those out!

            2. Try Hendersonville. A cop for every block, I swear.

              Are you trying to get me killed? Something else I noticed was a lot of “no concealed weapons” signs in states I thought would be gun friendly, specifically Tennessee.

              1. Liability/ass covering? No concealed weapons signs with the force of law behind them suck balls.

        2. Vinnie’s is a must-eat if your trail ever leads there.

          1. Also, the Grove Park Inn is fabulous in all ways except for a most miserable internet connection speed. The piano bar is an excellent place to get hammered when the stars shine. Just don’t eat Moroccan stew before imbibing on a dozen gin and tonics and break-dancing to Sinatra.

            1. Thanks for all the tips folks. Might go in September.

              1. Peace out, Asheville mountains are easy on the eyes.

              2. The Biltmore is best enjoyed when it isn’t packed. Your wife will likely love the place.

                1. Thanks:)

    2. Laws and cops are greatly loved by millions of reason-paralyzed Americans. Pure freedom is vexed by this trinity.

    3. One of my neighbors is a bored housewife who has decided to run for City Council, and when she asked me if I had any complaints about our city, she thought I was joking when I said there are far too many cops and they are far too aggressive for a city with the lowest crime rate in the state. She laughed and started babbling about how great it is that we require a degree for cops and spend more per cop than any other city in our county. She’s perfect for politics.

    4. One of my neighbors is a bored housewife who has decided to run for City Council, and when she asked me if I had any complaints about our city, she thought I was joking when I said there are far too many cops and they are far too aggressive for a city with the lowest crime rate in the state. She laughed and started babbling about how great it is that we require a degree for cops and spend more per cop than any other city in our county. She’s perfect for politics.

      1. Time to move.

  7. Reason writers, I have a question. At this point, do you pre-write the “Officer cleared by internal investigation / DA refuses to indict” stories after a shooting? Because you can pretty well guess what the investigation will say and what each person involved (the chief of police, the DA) will say in their statements, right?

    1. Ctrl C, Ctrl V.

    2. I assume they have some kind of template and just fill in the names, place, and time.

      1. They should do it mad libs style.

        1. There’s practically no plausible to reason to utilize your otherwise funky idea when the fucking stories already read like mad libs, cousin.

  8. If you are arrested you don’t have to ever make a statement if you don’t want to, cop or not.

    The issue is not self-incrimination so much as manipulation of evidence and coordinating the various stories prior to the initiation of the “investigation”.
    The cops won’t give you two days to scrub down the house, delete all your text messages and emails, and round up alibi witnesses after you call 911 to tell them your wife “fell down the stairs”.

    1. Bingo. Only cop-suspects are given free reign to talk to witnesses, fiddle with evidence, etc.

      Its not only that they don’t have to give a statement. Its that they aren’t arrested and put under the usual restrictions.

  9. Do people have a right to flee police – yes or no?

    1. No.

      Do police have the right to summarily execute citizens?

      1. I think you know the answer to that one.

  10. RESISTANCE IS FATAL

  11. Why do you assume every time a policeman kills someone, it is a “summary execution”?

    1. Induction.

    2. Great point, “execution” implies that there’s actually a legal justification for the killing.

      Shooting someone who isn’t posing a threat is just murder.

  12. Cr*p – I live in the Cincinnati burbs, and have had my front license plate and a mounting kit in my trunk for eight months. (The kit didn’t include bolts and I’ve been too lazy to pick them up.). Seriously, though, about half the cars I see don’t have front plates.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.