Does the DuBose Shooting Video Support Officer Tensing’s Account?

 

DuBoseWhen I first saw the body cam video of then-University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing shooting motorist Sam Dubose, I was taken aback. It made no sense for a relatively friendly, even jovial, conversation to devolve so quickly into a brutal shooting. Even after covering policing issues and violent crime for two decades, it was shocking. But something about it did not seem right.

It started with prosecutor Joe Deters’ statement that there was “no threat” to Tensing from DuBose. Yet it was obvious DuBose had pulled away from Tensing and started his car. A lethal threat, justifying deadly force? Perhaps not. But certainly he was an actively resisting suspect.

In fact, according to Deters and other self-appointed experts like the New York TimesCharles M. Blow, the video proves that Tensing’s account was a lie. Here is Blow’s expert analysis:

“Officer Tensing stated that he almost was run over by the driver of the Honda Accord and was forced to shoot the driver with his duty weapon.” [The report] continues: “Officer Tensing stated that he fired a single shot. Officer Tensing repeated that he was being dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon.”

The video proves that none of that happened. To watch that video is to be witness to an execution.

But something was just not right. There was too much motion, too much commotion for a cold-blooded murder. And Tensing clearly ended up on the ground after the shooting while DuBose clearly drove off.

The critical issue, of course, is: why did Tensing shoot DuBose if DuBose was no threat? Anger? Misperception? Or something else?

Then the blog Legal Insurrection posted a couple of screen grabs and a slow-motion version that had glimpses of Tensing being seemingly pushed away from the vehicle behind DuBose’ car. That did not fit with “no threat.” While I couldn’t say Tensing’s account was exactly right, it seemed inaccurate to say “none of that happened.”

So, I looked at the video myself and found the evidence that something happened to be extremely compelling. And that something may have been Officer Ray Tensing defending his life out of necessity.

Taking a second-by-second look, the entire violent portion of the incident took no more than 4 seconds. At 1:50 of the video Tensing asks DuBose to step out. At 1:52, DuBose pulls his door closed and starts his car. At 1:53, Tensing shouts “Stop!” and reaches in towards the ignition. At 1:54 he shouts “Stop!’ again, more emphatically, his arm fully in the car. At 1:55, Tensing’s weapon suddenly swings into view and the shot is fired. At 1:56, Tensing’s face is seen hitting the ground.

But, here’s the thing; At 1:56, Tensing is at approximately 20 feet further down the road then he was at 1:54.

Looking at landmarks in the video and Google Street View imagery, I put together the following this Youtube video that clearly shows Tensing moved 20 feet in one-two seconds (7-13 mph), from a standing start — and not in the direction he was facing — while simultaneously falling to the ground. And firing a gun shot. How did that happen?

The key images are as follows. At 1:46, we get the last look at the overall environment. DuBose is parked, with his car off, in front of a home facing Southbound on Rice Street, at the corner of Thill Street. The position of the car relative to certain land marks is obvious, most notably the fence along the driveway of the house and the SUV in the driveway.

Slide3

Position where the incident begins.

At 1:53, the car is started by DuBose. Tensing’s arm is visibly in the car. But, notably, in the bottom of the passenger window you can still see the SUV’s tires. The car has not moved (and therefore neither has Tensing).

Slide5

At 1:56, exactly one second after the shooting, Tensing is in the street, and a car opposite from where DuBose’s had been visible in the back of the image:

Slide8

The camera is now facing away from where DuBose’s car had been.

This is critical. Because within two seconds, Tensing rolls over and we see a crucial landmark adjacent to the car – a street sign post.

Slide9

Tensing himself is now facing away from where DuBose’s car had been.

Where was that sign post?

Down the street, according to Google Street View. I gauged it as 18-20 feet based on the steps of another officer running in the video, but it’s at least 15 feet according to Google Earth. When Tensing stands and turns around, a pothole in the street (circled in green below) is clearly visible, and he is now clearly on the south side of the hedge along the south edge of the driveway.

Slide11

The interaction began at the solid orange line toward the bottom right and ended near the three orange lines near the middle.

If the DA’s account is to be believed, Tensing lied about being dragged and faced no threat of such from DuBose’s car. Were that true, at 1:55 DuBose was parked in front of the house and — one second later — Tensing had managed to launch himself 18 feet down the roads from a standing start, while falling, more than 90 degrees from the direction he was facing.

It would also mean that — after being shot in the brain — DuBose put his car in gear and drove off.

It seems more plausible to me that at 1:54 DuBose put the car in gear and started forward with Tensing’s arm still inside. The 1:54 image is also notable in that the body camera has plunged toward the street, the image capturing the top of the door upholstery and lock, consistent with Tensing having lost his footing. At 1:55, Tensing, still with his left arm inside the car, now being dragged along, raises his gun and fires one round at the suspect who refused his order to stop (image at the video, I will spare the squeamish that detail here). That seems all the more plausible in that the blurry, shaken image seems (I emphasize seems) to show the staircase of the house moving back into the distance (or, more accurately, the car moving away from it).

Then, at 1:56, Tensing hits the ground 15-20 feet away, dragged — logic would indicate — that far in just over a second, maybe two.

Is that a lethal threat? That’s for a jury to decide.

But did Ray Tensing lie about being dragged by the car? The video seems to offer an emphatic “no.”

We are about to experience a tedious dissection of the last fractional seconds of Sam DuBose’s life and Ray Tensing’s career (and perhaps freedom), venturing ever deeper into shades of grey.

One must wonder how deep into the grey Cincinnati’s cops will want to dive, knowing DA Joe Deters won’t even bother looking at the tape. One can only hope Mr. Blow will take the time to look at mine.

Published in Domestic Policy, Law, Policing
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  1. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    I’d been meaning to watch the video of the shooting all weekend, but hadn’t gotten to it until just now. I find this very convincing, but I’d be curious what others think, especially those who were familiar with it before.

    • #1
  2. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    I had watched the video once, and as presented, it seemed to damn Tensing.  I’m grateful to Mr. Parry for the gumshoe work.

    What has not changed is the idiocy of reaching into the car.

    • #2
  3. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    I watched the video a couple times, but could not make sense of the crucial part.

    It is amazing how fast things can go from proceeding calmly to out of control.

    • #3
  4. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Ball Diamond Ball:I had watched the video once, and as presented, it seemed to damn Tensing. I’m grateful to Mr. Parry for the gumshoe work.

    What has not changed is the idiocy of reaching into the car.

    What also hasn’t changed is the idiocy of not following instructions and trying to flee the officer.

    • #4
  5. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    Concretevol:What also hasn’t changed is the idiocy of not following instructions and trying to flee the officer.

    I’ve been thinking about that, too.  Police officers make mistakes.  The immediate result of such mistakes are that the officer is endangered, or the suspect is endangered, and/or a bystander is endangered.  Or nobody is endangered, because no one takes advantage of the mistake.  In this case, the officer was endangered.  So the immediate penalty for the mistake was borne by the officer.

    But I can’t make the logical leap, that because of such a mistake, therefore the officer is responsible for the end result.  The man in the vehicle chose to take advantage.

    • #5
  6. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Great breakdown of the video evidence by the way.  I guess I expected this is kind of analysis is standard in a case like this…..no?

    • #6
  7. Real Jane Galt Coolidge
    Real Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    does it matter?  Black victim, white cop, riots to follow.

    • #7
  8. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Robert C. J. Parry: It would also mean that – after being shot in the brain — DuBose put his car in gear and drove off.

    The CNN report would have the car already in gear (do you find that improbable?) and the acceleration being the result of an involuntary muscle reaction after the gunshot. The latter raises several issues: (1) whether that is physiologically likely; and (2) (a) whether anything on the camera suggests the car was or was not in motion prior to the shot; and (b) what the ergonomics of the officer indicate about how he acquired the momentum from the car.

    • #8
  9. Robert C. J. Parry Contributor
    Robert C. J. Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    If you watch the video at this link, https://youtu.be/rB8k3XVjZPw you will see that the car moved roughly the width of the driveway in .25-.5 seconds. Motion prior to that can’t be seen due to the shaking of the camera and the distortion placed over DuBose’s face. I suspect that with the distortion removed, the change in background is more clear.

    • #9
  10. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball
    @BallDiamondBall

    I don’t care a whit for the reaction of the driver.  Assume the worst, and prepare for it.  The officer invited trouble when he reached into the car.  Now maybe that’s policy, as it is preferable to simply opening fire.  but it seems a poorly-handled risk decision.  At no point should the officer reach into the car in my opinion.  What the other guy does at that point is up to him *because* the officer has surrendered the initiative.

    • #10
  11. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Saw some of the other videos of Tensing’s traffic stops. He certainly did not know his boundaries – and he often seems clueless.

    • #11
  12. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Robert C. J. Parry: Officer Tensing repeated that he was being dragged by the vehicle and had to fire his weapon

    Firing your weapon might be one way to stop being dragged. Another way would have been to let go of whatever you were holding onto. Even the officer isn’t claiming he was pulled or held. Once the car started moving maybe “letting go” would have been an easier solution than “brain shot”.

    • #12
  13. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Real Jane Galt:does it matter? Black victim, white cop, riots to follow.

    Scenarios

    1. Black Lives Matter & DA’s case – Cop shoots unarmed black man without provocation.

    2. Actual Evidence – Cop shoots man who is resisting arrest and putting the officer in some danger doing it.

    I think it matters.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #13
  14. Frank Soto Contributor
    Frank Soto
    @FrankSoto

    Concretevol:

    Ball Diamond Ball:I had watched the video once, and as presented, it seemed to damn Tensing. I’m grateful to Mr. Parry for the gumshoe work.

    What has not changed is the idiocy of reaching into the car.

    What also hasn’t changed is the idiocy of not following instructions and trying to flee the officer.

    Not following instructions cannot in and of it self be justification for the death penalty.

    That said, i’m on the fence on this incident.  It’s murky.  When the situation is murky, I’d rather give deference to the person who acted in self-defense.

    • #14
  15. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I looked at this for the first time this morning.  I don’t see anything in the video to suggest that the officer was legitimately in fear for his life.

    Immediately before firing, the angle of the officer’s body cam changes.  The initial view is forward through the driver’s window, indicating that the officer was standing slightly behind the driver’s door, alongside the B-pillar.  The officer then evidently moved forward until he is standing adjacent to the front of the driver’s door and the A-pillar.  This is inconsistent with any forward movement of the vehicle prior to the fatal shot.

    [The “pillars” in a vehicle are the supports that hold up the roof, referred to front-to-back by the letters A, B, C and so on.  Thus, the metal structure between the windshield and the front windows is the “A-pillar,” and the one between the doors of a four-door vehicle is the “B-pillar.]

    I also don’t see any reason that the officer’s arm through the window would have placed him in legitimate fear for his life.  He could simply have pulled his arm back.

    My strong impression is that this was a completely unjustified shooting under current  law.

    • #15
  16. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    I’ve been critical before of the rule of Tennessee v. Garner, a 1985 SCOTUS case that prohibits police from shooting an apparently unarmed fleeing suspect, on policy grounds.  I think that it was very unwise, as a matter of Constitutional law, to prohibit the traditional “stop or I’ll shoot” threat in order to prevent flight.  This rule creates the wrong incentive, making flight a much more attractive alternative to the suspect.

    However, the law if very clear on this point, and has been for 30 years, so the officer in this instance should certainly have followed it.

    • #16
  17. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    iWe:Saw some of the other videos of Tensing’s traffic stops. He certainly did not know his boundaries – and he often seems clueless.

    iWe,

    I think he knew his boundaries and he was amazingly patient with these two clowns driving down the street in the middle of the night with their bumper hanging half off. They are confronting the officer with their pseudo-understanding of their rights. I doubt that I’d get away with anything like this or you for that matter with any police officer in the country. So first off he isn’t trigger happy or aggressive but patient. He actually shows he knows his boundaries because he can’t do anymore than he is doing legally. That’s why you think he looks clueless. To not look clueless in this situation he would have had to go beyond his boundaries.

    No strikes against him here.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #17
  18. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    Do we want police to be able to stop and question people? If the answer is yes, then people should not really be at liberty to just drive away. That could endanger even more people.

    I have NO IDEA what the officer was thinking when he reached for the ignition. Are there really no boundaries? Was he poorly trained, or just stupid?

    The shot did not help him, since the car kept going anyway (and clearly would have done so since it was already in motion). So it was not self defense.

    • #18
  19. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    FYI, I’m a civil litigator, so my expertise is in evaluating a potential civil liability claim that might be brought by the survivors.

    In the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases, had I been representing the defense, I would have believed (and advised my client) that there was a strong defense.  Ditto for the tragic (and I believe wholly accidental) death of Eric Garner.

    Here, were I representing the defense, I’d be advising them to be prepared to write a big settlement check, and I’d be very worried about taking the case in front of a jury.

    • #19
  20. Real Jane Galt Coolidge
    Real Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    James Gawron:

    Real Jane Galt:does it matter? Black victim, white cop, riots to follow.

    Scenarios

    1. Black Lives Matter & DA’s case – Cop shoots unarmed black man without provocation.

    2. Actual Evidence – Cop shoots man who is resisting arrest and putting the officer in some danger doing it.

    I think it matters.

    Regards,

    Jim

    But you do not count.  Only the people that will travel to Cincy or other cities and march / protest / riot count.

    • #20
  21. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    James Gawron:

    iWe:Saw some of the other videos of Tensing’s traffic stops. He certainly did not know his boundaries – and he often seems clueless.

    iWe,

    I think he knew his boundaries and he was amazingly patient with these two clowns driving down the street in the middle of the night with their bumper hanging half off. They are confronting the officer with their pseudo-understanding of their rights.

    The clowns had a point. Issue the citation, or not.

    Police do not get to open car doors, do they?

    Police cannot force a passenger in the car to give their ID without a reasonable suspicion of a crime.

    • #21
  22. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    iWe:Do we want police to be able to stop and question people? If the answer is yes, then people should not really be at liberty to just drive away. That could endanger even more people.

    I have NO IDEA what the officer was thinking when he reached for the ignition. Are there really no boundaries? Was he poorly trained, or just stupid?

    The shot did not help him, since the car kept going anyway (and clearly would have done so since it was already in motion). So it was not self defense.

    iWc,

    You aren’t answering my objections to your comments of no boundaries and clueless on the video. The two obnoxious clowns who appeared almost to be setting the cops up were completely uncooperative with a legitimate stop. They were detained for all of 17.5 minutes. Then given the citation which followed procedure and the law exactly. The officer in question had to wait there with these provocateurs the whole time. He said as little as possible, did not act threatening to them as they tried to twist his every word and action.

    Apparently law enforcement is a really easy job and these two guys were just police critics, you know like restaurant critics, out to write a tough review. Meanwhile, the cops, especially Tensing, passed their test.

    No case yet. The physical evidence doesn’t match the DA’s account. No prior evidence that Tensing was a problem cop. No evidence – no case.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #22
  23. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    James Gawron:

    iWe:Do we want police to be able to stop and question people? If the answer is yes, then people should not really be at liberty to just drive away. That could endanger even more people.

    I have NO IDEA what the officer was thinking when he reached for the ignition. Are there really no boundaries? Was he poorly trained, or just stupid?

    The shot did not help him, since the car kept going anyway (and clearly would have done so since it was already in motion). So it was not self defense.

    iWc,

    You aren’t answering my objections to your comments of no boundaries and clueless on the video. The two obnoxious clowns who appeared almost to be setting the cops up were completely uncooperative with a legitimate stop. They were detained for all of 17.5 minutes. Then given the citation which followed procedure and the law exactly. The officer in question had to wait there with these provocateurs the whole time. He said as little as possible, did not act threatening to them as they tried to twist his every word and action.

    Jim –

    “Cooperative” means stopping and following direct and legal instructions. I believe they did this, did they not?

    Where the clowns resisted, they had the legal right to do so. Am I wrong?

    BTW, I find police lights really obnoxious. The intensity of the light can be painful. Having a police officer shining a bright beam in your eyes while asking questions would automatically get my back up. It is not a conversation when one side is using interrogation tactics.  This is really neither here nor there, but it is precisely the kind of overbearing behavior that sticks in my craw.

    • #23
  24. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    iWe:

    James Gawron:

    iWe:Do we want police to be able to stop and question people? If the answer is yes, then people should not really be at liberty to just drive away. That could endanger even more people.

    I have NO IDEA what the officer was thinking when he reached for the ignition. Are there really no boundaries? Was he poorly trained, or just stupid?

    The shot did not help him, since the car kept going anyway (and clearly would have done so since it was already in motion). So it was not self defense.

    iWc,

    You aren’t answering my objections to your comments of no boundaries and clueless on the video. The two obnoxious clowns who appeared almost to be setting the cops up were completely uncooperative with a legitimate stop. They were detained for all of 17.5 minutes. Then given the citation which followed procedure and the law exactly. The officer in question had to wait there with these provocateurs the whole time. He said as little as possible, did not act threatening to them as they tried to twist his every word and action.

    Jim –

    “Cooperative” means stopping and following direct and legal instructions. I believe they did this, did they not?

    Where the clowns resisted, they had the legal right to do so. Am I wrong?

    BTW, I find police lights really obnoxious. The intensity of the light can be painful. Having a police officer shining a bright beam in your eyes while asking questions would automatically get my back up. It is not a conversation when one side is using interrogation tactics. This is really neither here nor there, but it is precisely the kind of overbearing behavior that sticks in my craw.

    If you found Tensing’s behavior here, given the two motor mouths, threatening or intimidating I think you a are a bit oversensitive. He is shining the light because in this situation they could be felons and armed. It is in their best interest that he can see them clearly. Did you ever think that as far as Tensing knows these two geniuses could be on their way to break into a house. He is just trying to hold them long enough to make sure they don’t have a rap sheet five pages long. Apparently these geniuses are computer experts too as they think it shouldn’t have taken 17.5 minutes out of their busy life for this. It probably wouldn’t have if they had both presented proper ID. Legally they weren’t forced to and they didn’t.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #24
  25. AldenPyle Inactive
    AldenPyle
    @AldenPyle

    The real scandal is the city of Cincinnati was allowing the “police”of a private institution to enforce traffic laws off campus and Officer Tensing and his colleagues were abusing that by hassling their neighbors over missing front tags.

    DuBose started to drive off at low speed. Tensing shot DuBose because he worried that DuBose might do something (accelerate to a high speed) that might lead Tensing to do something wildly reckless (to hold onto an accelerating car) which might have lead DuBose to do something potentially dangerous (continue driving fast with an officer hanging onto his car). To avoid the possibility of a possibility of a possibility of his life being potentially (but not probably) in danger, Tensing shot DuBose in the head. That’s murder.

    • #25
  26. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    There are two two related questions that deserve separate consideration: did Tensing act lawfully and/or with sound judgement; and does the incident fit into the #BlackLivesMatter narrative?

    I think one can answer no to the former without answering yes to the latter.

    • #26
  27. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    It’s a mystery either way. If he wasn’t in danger, why did he shoot the guy? You have to assume he didn’t pull the guy over with the intention of shooting him. So why did he? How is the prosecution going to answer that question? Or do they even have to?

    • #27
  28. Robert C. J. Parry Contributor
    Robert C. J. Parry
    @RobertCJParry

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:There are two two related questions that deserve separate consideration: did Tensing act lawfully and/or with sound judgement; and does the incident fit into the #BlackLivesMatter narrative?

    I think one can answer no to the former without answering yes to the latter.

    One can also act lawfully without sound judgement.  For example, It is perfectly lawful for a cop to tackle a man with a butcher knife. But, I wouldn’t do it.  Now, if that man rolls over the cop and tries to stab him, is it murder for the cop to shoot?

    Similarly, if Tensing had not reached into the car, but instead taken a few left steps so he was in front of it thus blocking in DuBose, that would be legal but unwise.  Does he then surrender his right to self defense by placing himself in danger if DuBose drives forward?

    I’d be curious to hear from a lawyer on that question.

    • #28
  29. JimGoneWild Coolidge
    JimGoneWild
    @JimGoneWild

    Thanks. I kind of noticed the same thing, about the movement of the background, that is. Can you post 1:54?

    • #29
  30. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Real Jane Galt:

    James Gawron:

    Real Jane Galt:does it matter? Black victim, white cop, riots to follow.

    Scenarios

    1. Black Lives Matter & DA’s case – Cop shoots unarmed black man without provocation.

    2. Actual Evidence – Cop shoots man who is resisting arrest and putting the officer in some danger doing it.

    I think it matters.

    Regards,

    Jim

    But you do not count. Only the people that will travel to Cincy or other cities and march / protest / riot count.

    RJG,

    Don’t forget those poor souls are only being paid a few hundred a week by Soros to do that. You’d think Soros would pay them a minimum wage of $16/hour to march / protest / riot. It’s just not fair.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #30
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