City Manager: Body cam video of DuBose shooting "not a good situation"

Sam DuBose (FOX19 NOW file)
Sam DuBose (FOX19 NOW file)
Mark O'Mara (Provided by O'Mara Law Group website)
Mark O'Mara (Provided by O'Mara Law Group website)
University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing (FOX19 NOW/file)
University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing (FOX19 NOW/file)

Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black announced Monday he has been told what's on the body camera video that captured the final moments of Sam DuBose before he was shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati Police Officer - and "it's not a good situation."

"Again, it's a tragic situation. Someone has died that didn't necessarily need to die and I"ll leave it at that," Black said.

His remarks came after he and members of his City Manager's Advisory Group privately met with top University of Cincinnati officials. They are discussing how to best move forward in the wake of the July 19 shooting.

UC police no longer conducting traffic stops off campus. Instead, Cincinnati police have said they will step up patrols near UC in Districts 4 and 5, which includes the neighborhoods of Corryville, Clifton and University Heights.

UC President Santo Ono announced Monday the university is hiring an independent external reviewer to examine campus police policies, procedures and practices.

"We also are moving forward with the creation of a community advisory panel. These are important steps to create an enhanced environment of openness and healing," Ono said in a prepared statement.

The developments came as DuBose's family announced they have retained Orlando attorney Mark O'Mara. He called for the immediate release of the body camera video capturing DuBose's final moments.

"Releasing the body cam video is simply the right thing to do," said O'Mara in a prepared statement. "It will provide the family with some of the answers they deserve, and it will satisfy the community's right to know."

O'Mara is a nationally known criminal defense attorney who successfully represented George Zimmerman in the 2013 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, 17.

O'Mara and two members of his legal team flew into the Tri-State Monday as he began work on the case.

On Friday, FOX19 NOW sued Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters seeking the release of the video footage that could play a critical role in showing the July 19 encounter between DuBose, 43, and Officer Ray Tensing.

The Associated Press, Cincinnati Enquirer and three other local television stations joined FOX19 NOW in the lawsuit.

Attorney Jack Greiner says Deters' decision to withhold the video violates Ohio's public records laws.

Deters has refused to release the footage because he said it would hurt his investigation and could taint the grand jury process.  He said he expects to complete his investigation  and present findings to the grand jury by the end of this week.  He has said the footage will be released at some point, "just not right now."

Deters reiterated that stance in a radio interview Monday on 700 WLW (AM Radio). He told Bill Cunningham he won't release the video before the grand jury sees it unless ordered to do so by the Ohio Supreme Court. He said he wants the court to rule on whether police body camera video is a public record, calling the devices a "new science."

He also described the video as "obviously the best piece of evidence" in his investigation.

"Releasing our stuff without our investigation completed, I think it's a very slippery slope and I want to make sure that this investigation has not been tainted by any person or tape or anything."

But O'Mara maintains releasing the video will not interfere with the legal process.

"This type of tragedy has become too common. There is a troubling pattern in these police shootings, and the public has a clear interest in these cases," O'Mara said. "I know there is a concern about the officer's right to a fair trial, but I've been a criminal defense attorney for 30 years, and have tried high-profile cases, and can tell you that releasing the video will not prevent Officer Tensing from getting due process.

"Lawyers (have) been able to seat a jury in the Boston bombing case, the Aurora theater shooting and the Zimmerman case -- despite trial publicity," he said. "And what about Samuel's rights?  What about the larger social justice concerns?

"Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters has a choice regarding whether or not to disclose the video. Since Samuel's record has already been disclosed, and since the incident report and the 911 call has already been released, common sense and compassion should inform his decision about releasing the body camera footage."

The video footage is especially critical after some of the records released so far in the case appear to have major inconsistencies.

A police incident report says Tensing was being "dragged" by DuBose's vehicle and "had to fire his weapon." Tensing also hurt his right arm and was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

But in the recording of Tensing's call to the emergency dispatcher, he says nothing about being dragged. He also said he was not hurt.

Tensing said he was nearly run over by DuBose's vehicle, according to both the incident report and call recording.

DuBose was shot in the head and pronounced dead at the scene.

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