Former University of Cincinnati Police Officer Ray Tensing pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the July 19 shooting death of Samuel DuBose.
At the arraignment, the judge set Tensing’s bond at $1 million.
Some inside the courtroom applauded when Judge Megan Shanahan announced the bond, and she quickly admonished them and called for order in the court.
Tensing’s next court date is set for August 19.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters announced the charges at a news conference this week.
“I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. This is the most asinine act I’ve ever seen a police officer make—totally unwarranted,” he said. “It’s an absolute tragedy in the year 2015 that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless.”
Deters played body camera footage of the traffic stop shooting that appeared to contradict Tensing’s version of what happened.
The prosecutor, who said he was shocked when he first saw the video, was adamant that DuBose, who was Black, had not acted aggressively toward Tensing, who is White.
“People want to believe that Mr. DuBose had done something violent towards the officer. He did not. He did not at all. I feel so sorry for his family and what they lost, and I feel sorry for the community, too,” Deters said.
A reporter asked Deters whether he thought Tensing tried to mislead investigators looking into the incident.
“Yes,” he said. “I think he was making an excuse for a purposeful killing” of DuBose, who was unarmed.
Tensing fatally shot DuBose, 43, during a July 19 traffic stop over an alleged missing license tag. The officer has said he was forced to fire his weapon after almost being run over.
His body camera video captured Tensing telling officers after the shooting: “I think I’m okay. He was just dragging me. I thought I was going to get run over. I was trying to stop him.”
He says his hand was caught in DuBose’s car, and he later left the scene with another officer to get checked out at a hospital. The footage shows no one rendering aid to DuBose.
Tensing, 25, surrendered to authorities shortly after news of the indictment broke. He has been fired from his job and, if convicted, could go to prison for life.
Tensing’s attorney believes the officer feared for his life.
DuBose’s death is the latest in a string of controversial killings of people by police that include Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Michael Brown in Ferguson, and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The people killed in each case have been Black.
DuBose’s mother told reporters that she is grateful “everything was uncovered” in her son’s shooting.
“I want everybody to just lift up their heads in prayer, and thank God because this one did not go unsolved and hidden,” said Audrey DuBose. “We’re going to continue to fight together with God.”
Mark O’Mara, an attorney for the family, said he does not believe there would have been an indictment if there hadn’t been video of the shooting.
“We’ve now made a huge first step because, in a situation where sometimes people believe that officers are not held accountable for their actions, in this case, one is being held accountable. So Cincinnati is showing the rest of us how to do this right,” O’Mara said.