Prosecution police expert: Tensing shooting DuBose 'unjustified'

Ray Tensing and his attorney, Stew Mathews, in court Tuesday. (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Ray Tensing and his attorney, Stew Mathews, in court Tuesday. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Ray Tensing's actions in the 2015 traffic stop of Samuel DuBose were "unreasonable" and he is "unjustified" in fatally shooting the motorist, a police use of force expert for the prosecution told jurors Tuesday.

Scot Haug, a police chief from Post Falls, Idaho, testified that Tensing, 27, violated his police training and commonly accepted police practices by "lunging" into DuBose's car.

Tensing, he said, created a lot of the tension during the traffic stop by failing to step back and de-escalate the situation.

"When an officer uses unsound tactics during a predictable event, it can set off a chain of events that can end in tragedy," Haug told jurors.

Under cross-examination, however, Haug conceded we are all looking at this with 20/20 hindsight and he doesn't know what Tensing was feeling at the time.

Another police expert for the prosecution, Hamilton Township Police Chief Scott Hughes, took the stand to explain police protocol and best practices during traffic stops.

He teaches a class called "Tactics in Traffic." Tensing was one of his students in December 2014.

One of the major takeaways: Never reach into the car. The risks to officer safety far outweigh any advantages achieved by taking keys out of the ignition. Officers who reach into the vehicle risk being dragged or attacked, he said, noting that officers in Cincinnati have died doing just this.

Meanwhile, a protest demanding jail time for Tensing was underway outside the Hamilton County Courthouse.

The event was sponsored by several groups including Black Lives Matter Cincinnati, Cincinnati Socialist Alternative and the Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

DuBose's mother, Audrey DuBose, thanked protesters and declined to talk to media.

Earlier Tuesday, the prosecution's star witness, a forensic video expert, wrapped up some three hours of testimony over two days analyzing what came down to just seconds of footage from Tensing's body camera.

Fredericks, who also testified in the first trial last year, told jurors Monday Tensing's own body camera doesn't support his story that his arm was stuck in DuBose's steering wheel and he was being dragged.

Tensing told Cincinnati police investigators a few days after the shooting he fired his gun at DuBose because he was in fear for his life. During his first trial last year, Tensing took took the stand to defend himself and said he shot DuBose, 43, because he perceived he was being dragged and feared for his life.

Under a lengthy cross-examination Tuesday, Tensing's defense attorney, Stew Mathews, repeatedly pressed Fredericks to agree what he was doing in analyzing the video was nothing more than "20/20 hindsight."

"No," Fredericks shot back, "This is forensics."

Fredericks told jurors Monday DuBose's car appeared to slightly move forward just milliseconds before the shot. He also said Tensing pointed his gun at DuBose's head before the car moved.

He remained firm in his assessment of the video under Mathew's cross, even when the defense attorney produced his own frame-by-frame analysis of the video.

Here's who is scheduled to testify next for the prosecution once court resumes Wednesday.

All testified in the first trial and, during some of their testimony, graphic photos of DuBose were shown to the jury:

  • Dr. Karen Looman, chief deputy coroner with the Hamilton County Coroner's Office. Last year, she told jurors she performed an autopsy on DuBose the morning after his death. She testified the he was shot in the head and the bullet hit his brain stem, killing him instantly.  The brain stem, she told jurors "tells your heart to beat, it tells you to take a breath, so that is a serious injury. As soon as the bullet cuts off that brainstem, there is no more thought...there was no more purposeful movement." When asked if DuBose was completely healthy when he died, Looman said no but did not elaborate. The judge in the last trial barred DuBose medical history from being used in the trial.
  • Kevin Lattyak, firearms supervisor in the coroner's crime lab. He will talk about Tensing's UCPD-issued service weapon that killed DuBose. In the first trial, he told jurors he fired the .40-caliber handgun several times and it operated normally.
  • Mike Trimpe, coroner's trace evidence examiner. He said last year he found no abrasions on Tensing's boots to indicate he was dragged the day he fatally shot DuBose
  • Cincinnati Police Criminologist Martin Odom. He went to University of Cincinnati Medical Center to photograph Tensing's possible injuries and to collect his uniform as evidence. He told jurors last year Tensing seemed "nervous or afraid".

Once the prosecution rests, Tensing's defense is expected to include their own experts - and Tensing himself. He will testify again, his lawyer told jurors last week.

Tensing faces charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter.

The murder charge carries the possibility of life in prison if he is convicted. The voluntary manslaughter charge could put Tensing in prison for 3 to 11 years.

His first trial ended with a deadlocked jury and mistrial in November.

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