Everything Is Being Revealed
At DuBose's funeral, photo by Glenn Hartong/The Enquirer. Front photo by John Minchillo/ AP
Talk about powerful visuals: Ray Tensing, fired Cincinnati wannabe cop who shot Samuel DuBose in the head - we don't need to say "allegedly" thanks to chilling video - appeared in court Thursday in jail stripes and handcuffs to plead not guilty to executing a man over a missing front license plate in a random but by-now wearily familiar act of violence that prosecutors called "without question a murder." His own body cam showed Tensing, a 25-year-old University of Cincinnati police officer, hassling DuBose for only a minute or two before pulling out his gun and mindlessly shooting DuBose, a 43-year-old father of ten, in the head. The video of the July 19 encounter obliterated Tensing's story that he was being dragged by DuBose’s car and feared for his life - a claim several of his fellow cops then blithely repeated.
The video helped lead a grand jury Monday to indict Tensing on charges of murder and manslaughter, making him the first Cincinnati cop to face murder charges for killing someone in the line of duty. In a remarkable press conference, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters called the shooting "senseless" and "asanine," bluntly charging, "He purposely killed him" - a charge Tensing's lawyer less-than-convincingly refuted with, "There wasn't any purpose to kill this fella," which is kinda the point here. "This should never happen," said Deters, despite abundant evidence that, in fact, it does. "I don't care who you are...we're gonna go after you." Tensing faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted. At his arraignment, Tensing stood with head bowed and hands cuffed behind him as a judge set bond at $1 million.
After DuBose's grief-and-love-filled funeral Tuesday, his family expressed gratitude for the existence of the video, which helped bring the indictment. Referencing all the random deaths of black men by police that have come before - illustrated by the newest trending hashtags #SamuelDubose and #ifiwerestopped - DuBose's sister noted, "My brother was about to be just another stereotype, and that didn't happen....I am pleased we will get some kind of justice." His mother Audrey DuBose echoed her. "I'm so thankful that everything was uncovered," she said. "Everything is being revealed. I can rest now."
Still, the case - not to mention the country where it happened - remains a racist horror show. Several of Tensing's (presumably white) fellow-cops brazenly lied to cover him. Mainstream media repeatedly published side-by-side pictures of Tensing smiling in his pretend-cop uniform beside an American flag, and DuBose in a mugshot. The same day Tensing was indicted, some yahoos working in the dead of night left Confederate flags strewn around Atlanta's Ebenezer Baptist Church, Martin Luther King's church, and the MLK National Historic Visitor Site. And what Charles Blow calls "the drumbeat of falling black bodies" goes on. As a black man, he cites "the very idea that this violence is conducted by people acting in your name but against your body" to ask, "Whom do I turn to when the cops become the criminals?" Despite the reality that indictment is a long way from conviction, that's the single most stunning, hopeful thing about that image of Tensing in court: For once, the cop looks like what he is - a criminal.
Update: Two of the cops who corroborated Tensing's bogus story were also named as defendants in an earlier wrongful death lawsuit involving the death of an unarmed mentally ill black man. Not entirely surprisingly, they, like too many of their brothers in blue, seem to make a habit of this sort of thing.
Mourners at funeral, photo by Carrie Cochran/The Enquirer