In the wake of Officer Jeronimo Yanez’ not-guilty verdict in the shooting death of Philando Castile, and amid mass protests over such a verdict, citizens are bracing for yet another ruling in the trial of former University of Cincinnati Officer Ray Tensing.
Tensing, who shot and killed Sam DuBose, is facing his second trial after prosecutors’ first attempt at convicting him for murder and manslaughter ended in hung jury. The mistrial resulted in Tensing being retried with a second jury, a trial which could conclude as early as this week.
As The Free Thought Project reported at the time of the shooting, Tensing killed DuBose after pulling him over and discovering he did not have a license plate on the front of his vehicle. He also did not have his drivers license in his possession but did have a bottle of gin in the car.
After Tensing told him to take off his seatbelt, and while the officer was trying to open the driver’s side car door, DuBose attempted to drive off. Tensing quickly opened fire shooting the man in the head, who continued driving down the road until the car crashed.
From the body camera footage, Tensing can be seen attempting to reach into the vehicle, possibly in an effort to turn off the car’s engine, when DuBose hit the accelerator.
Tensing told fellow officers he was being “dragged,” but dashcam footage did not corroborate his claims. Now, testimony in the case is winding down, and the former officer is waiting to see if he will be as fortunate as Yanez or have to spend years in prison for taking an unarmed motorist’s life.
When grilled over his contention he was being dragged, Tensing testified this week;
After studying the body camera footage, I see now that (DuBose) pinned it
He testified he believed his life to be in danger and was forced to “end the threat” which is the reason he gave for shooting DuBose. Forensic video analyst Grant Fredericks testified for the prosecution, giving a moment by moment analysis of the body camera footage. Tensing fired back;
No disrespect to Mr. Fredericks, but he was not there experiencing what I was experiencing…He watched the body camera video, he was not in my head and seeing what I was seeing and he was not feeling what I was feeling
To many who were following the Castile story, Yanez should not have been acquitted. By all accounts, including the dash cam footage from his squad car, Castile was being compliant, even informing the officer he was in legal possession of a firearm. That statement is required by law in many states when a police officer makes a traffic stop and a motorist holds a concealed carry permit, as Castile did at the time he lost his life.
The mere fact he informed Yanez he was armed should have indicated to the officer he was no threat to the public servant. Instead of watching and waiting patiently for Castile to retrieve both his license and his permit to carry, Yanez got nervous, feared for his life, and killed Castile in front of his girlfriend and a child.
Since Yanez was found not guilty, then there is no reason to believe Tensing will be convicted either. Castile was compliant. DuBose was not. Castile informed the officer he was licensed, while DuBose did not have a valid license to drive and was in someone else’s car, which lacked a license plate. Castile was sitting still with his car in park. DuBose was fidgety, and attempted to make a getaway.
Castile was shot dead in front of his girlfriend and his child, yet no one else was in the car with DuBose to support his side of the story. All of which could lead many to conclude Tensing will walk away from the court as a free man — but none of which justify the deaths of either man.
And so the problem of police brutality, excessive use of force, and death by cop will likely continue, and along with the perceived inhumanity will come more protests, more outrage, and potentially more retaliations and assassinations of law enforcement officers such as was witnessed in both Texas and Louisiana. Something has to change.
Castile, arguably, would still be alive today if he had simply lied to the officer about his possession of a firearm. Had he simply handed over his drivers license and received a ticket for having a broken taillight, he would still be on this side of eternity — all of which may lead others to lie to police officers while stopped, simply to keep an already nervous cop from killing them.
It should be noted that the only other time Tensing had discharged his weapon in the line of duty was when he attempted to shoot a dog. Prosecutors grilled him over that incident asking the former officer, “Is it easier to shoot and kill a human being who wasn’t moving, like Sam DuBose, who was trapped in his car with his seatbelt on and you were only one or two feet away?”
“Nothing about this is easy,” Tensing answered.