UC police-involved shooting handed to Grand Jury

Rally planned for man killed in traffic stop
Samuel Dubose, provided photo.
Samuel Dubose, provided photo.
Officer Ray Tensing, provided
Officer Ray Tensing, provided

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A Grand Jury will review the evidence in the case of a University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot a man during a traffic stop.

Jurors were presented preliminary information on Thursday, according to a spokesperson with the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office.

It still remains unclear, at least publicly, why Officer Ray Tensing shot and killed Samuel Dubose after a struggle at a traffic stop about a mile away from UC's campus.

Despite public outcry, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters along with officials from the city and UC have refused to release footage from the body camera worn by Tensing.

The prosecutor's office denied FOX19 NOW's public records request for the video, claiming it could jeopardize the investigation and a possible future fair trial.

"The law supports our position to not release the video.  If you do not want to look at the law and just use your common sense, it should be clear why we are not releasing the video only a few days after the incident occurred.  We need time to look at everything and do a complete investigation so that the community is satisfied that we did a thorough job.  The Grand Jury has not seen the video yet and we do not want to taint the Grand Jury process. The video will be released at some point -  just not right now," Deters said in a statement released Thursday.

The investigation was turned over by Cincinnati Police to Deters on Wednesday. The longtime county prosecutor will examine the case to determine if any criminal charges are warranted. Deters already has said his office is "rapidly investigating" and expects to have the case reviewed by the end of next week.

"A case like this puts a lot pressure on the county prosecutor," said Mike Allen, who was in office when then-Cincinnati Police Officer Stephen Roach shot and killed the unarmed and fleeing Timothy Thomas, 19, in April 2001, sparking three riots.

The group 'Black Lives Matter Cincinnati' planned a rally on Sunday to demand a transparent investigation and release of all video and audio recordings related to the incident. The 5:30 p.m. rally begins at UC Police headquarters.

Meanwhile, the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of National Action Network have called for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate, saying they had no confidence in Deters review of the case.

At a press conference on Wednesday, UC President Santa Ono and Mayor John Cranley both said they had not watched Tensing's body camera footage.

"We have learned over a long period of time,  having made our own mistakes, a pullover related to a license plate should not, in the normal course of events, lead to lethal force," said Cranley. "Therefore, reform is in order."

Friends and family members of Dubose gathered outside Deters' office on Thursday to demand answers. Family members say Dubose, who has 13 children, recently got engaged to be married. They acknowledged he has a criminal history, but insist he is not violent.

Dubose's criminal history in Hamilton County includes at least a dozen arrests for misdemeanor drug crimes and traffic offenses, court records show. He also served time in a state prison on a 2005 marijuana trafficking charge.

Dubose was unable to produce a driver's license and had a bottle of alcohol in the car when Tensing pulled him over around 6:30 p.m., police have said. He was unarmed.

A struggle ensued after Tensing asked Dubose to exit the vehicle.

Tensing fired a single shot and Dubose  - who was hit in the head - was able to restart the car and begin to drive away.

Tensing was knocked to the ground and treated for minor injuries.

He remains on paid administrative leave. He has been with UC police since April of 2014.

His 2014 job review praised him for being "extremely active with traffic, but his reviewer added "I would like him to interact with the community in a more service-oriented manner."

The case is making national news at a time when police are under increased scrutiny amidst fatal officer-involved shootings in Ferguson, Missouri and North Charleston, South Carolina; the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland and now the arrest and in-custody death of Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas.

In refusing to release the body cam footage, Deters cited the following:

-Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and ORC Section 149.43 (A) (1) (v) as release could jeopardize a possible future fair trial; and

-ORC Section 149.43 (A) (1) (h) Confidential law enforcement investigatory records.  See specifically ORC Section 149.43 (A) (2) (c), Specific confidential investigatory techniques or procedures or specific investigatory work product, and State of Ohio ex rel. Mark W. Miller vs. Ohio State Highway Patrol, 2014-Ohio-2244.

Copyright 2015 WXIX. All rights reserved.