Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Cincinnati Shooting

I have just reviewed the videotape from the shooting of a black man by a white University of Cincinnati police officer. It's too soon to make a final judgment, but the officer has been indicted.

It appears the officer's defense is going to be that the deceased man, Sam DuBose, was trying to drive off and that he (Officer Ray Tensing) thought he was in fear of being dragged by the car. The tape does not appear to support that though at the moment of the shot, the video from the officer's body camera becomes blurred-understandably from the violent movement. Had DuBose been reaching for a gun, that would justify the shot, but that is not the case. he was unarmed.

As to the question of being dragged or otherwise injured by the car, if a suspect uses his car to try and injure or kill an officer, that generally justifies shooting in self defense. There are many cases like this in law enforcement. I was in a somewhat similar situation one night in Los Angeles back in the early 1980s. In my case, which occurred one night in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, we were attempting to arrest a suspect who was just leaving his house as we arrived and were setting up to hit the door. As the suspect drove out of his driveway and down the street, one of the agents tried to stop him by acting like a drunk pedestrian staggering across the road. The suspect stopped briefly, but when he realized he was about to be arrested, he hit the accelerator and tried to drive away striking the agent and knocking him out of the way (He was not injured.) The agent then fired a round at the left front tire, but only succeeded in killing a hubcap.

(I am not making this up.)

As all this happened, I was standing right next to the driver's side window with a direct bead on the suspect's head. I could have fired, but I noticed that one of my fellow agents was slightly to the left. Had he moved to the right he would have entered the line of fire. Thus, I did not fire, and a high speed car chase ensued before we were able to stop and arrest the suspect with a struggle.

Subsequently, an internal investigation was conducted-as is required. The shooting was deemed justified, and the agent hung the hubcap on the wall behind his desk.

Back to Officer Tensing. Unless something emerges that supports his version of being dragged, I think he has big problems. However, I will withhold judgment.

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