Guilty Until Proven Guilty

Ray-Tensing2I spent a great deal of my time yesterday responding in several Facebook threads about the fatal shooting of Sam Dubose by former U.C. Police Officer Ray Tensing. Needless to say, no matter how hardened some of us pretend to be, the taking of a human life by another is horrible. An incident of this type needs to be fully investigated by the authorities, appropriate charges need to be placed, and the matter needs to be determined in the court system. No matter how passionate or dedicated a person may be the matter is not going to be solved in a Facebook discussion. And in particular in a Facebook discussion where the participants are not allowing common sense and good judgment to rule their statements but instead are using outrage and uninformed decisions to do so. The bottom line is this. A person is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. That includes Ray Tensing.

All that I know is that Ray Tensing, a former University of Cincinnati Police Officer made a traffic stop for a violation of law. The violation, which has been described by Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters as “chicken crap” was for failure to display a front license plate. Well Mr. Deters, let me explain why the violation is of interest to a police officer and not really “chicken crap”. Frequently, if a license plate is stolen from one car and placed on another typically only one plate is taken. This alone is enough to get the attention of most police officers.. It is also enough to provide probable cause for the police officer to make a traffic stop which is also an investigatory stop where often other violations of law are discovered. So not only was Ray Tensing not making a “chicken crap” traffic stop, he was engaging in good police work and he was performing his sworn duty.

Ray Tensing was a member of the University of Cincinnati Police Department. Members of this police department are fully certified and trained as peace officers in the state of Ohio. They operate under full color of the law and have the same police powers as Cincinnati Police Officers. Ray Tensing was fully within his rights to make a stop for a violation off campus. An agreement has been in place between the Cincinnati Police Department and the U.C. police Department that U.C. Police would patrol on campus and the areas off campus that were in near the campus. This was done due to an ever-increasing crime problem affecting U.C. students, not only on campus but near campus. The U.C. Police Department has an obligation to protect the University faculty, staff, and students. Because of off campus housing and transit people walking to and from campus facilities on City streets, the ability to protect them was enhanced by the cooperative efforts of both departments patrolling these areas. The traffic stop began at the intersection of Vine St. and Thill St, just a few blocks away from campus end at Vine St. and Calhoun St. This would show that Tensing was in an area he had every right to be and was operating within the CPD/UCPD agreement.

After Tensing made the traffic stop he approached the vehicle and began to question Mr. Dubose about the lack of a front license plate and his inability to produce a driver’s license. Some have complained that questions were asked an answered and should not have been asked again. Traffic stops are not in a court of law and the famous attorney line “your Honor, I object, asked and answered” does not apply here. A police officer is not under any ruling that a question can only be asked one time. In fact, again this is good police work as often a question when asked one time will receive one answer and when asked a second time will receive another answer. This can be an indication of evasiveness, intoxication, or drug use. Ray Tensing wanted Sam Dubose to remove his seat belt and he began opening the door of the vehicle, presumably to have Dubose exit the vehicle. For those who seem to think a police officer has no right to request an individual to exit their vehicle, rest assured that he does. This may be for further investigation or for the officer’s safety. We do not know why Tensing wanted him out of the car but it would have been a legal request, had he the opportunity to make the request.  It was at this point that something went terribly wrong. The video tape is not clear, or at least is not clear to me. Due to a flurry of activity even the sound of the gun shot is muffled and difficult to distinguish. I do not know if Tensing intentionally fired his weapon or if it was accidentally discharged. In either case, that would be an act that Tensing has to answer for. Sam Dubose is dead, and that is something he has to answer for as well. I am sure the body camera video of all the officers involved will be analyzed by video forensic experts, frame by frame, until a very clear picture of the event is presented. I am sure these analysis, along with a mountain of other evidence will be produced by both prosecution and the defense. While the trial is going on, Mr. tensing is innocent because he has not yet been proven guilty.

For those who have asked, the legal process is this. The case was investigated, very quickly I might add. The results of this investigation were presented to the Grand Jury. The only purpose of the Grand Jury is to hear the evidence as presented by the prosecution and determine if the evidence supports prosecution for a crime, and if so, what crime or crimes. If the Grand Jury returns a True Bill, as was done in this case, then Mr. Tensing was sent to court where he will enter a plea. In this case Mr. Tensing entered a plea of “not guilty”. Which of course, he still is not guilty. Mr. Tensing has been bailed out and is awaiting trial, at which point he will be found guilty or not guilty. But until then, he is not guilty. I keep belaboring the point that he is not guilty until proven otherwise in a court of law because so many have already determined him to be guilty.

At this point I am going to jump up on my soapbox. It is my opinion, and just my opinion, that collectively and individually, the Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, the City of Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell, the City of Cincinnati City Manager Harry Black, and to a lesser extent, the City of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley acted irresponsibly with remarks they made about this case. Mr. Deters earlier expressed concern that he was not releasing the tape so as not to taint the pool of potential Grand Jurors. Following the indictment, he and the others, henceforth collectively called the gang of four, have quite effectively tainted the pool of potential petit jurors who may eventually make the decision to incarcerate Ray Tensing for life. And that, in my opinion, was irresponsible of them. The Gang of Four, because of their positions,have a great deal of influence on public perception. People listen to them because they assume they know what they are talking about due to their elevated stations in life. I think most of us know that not to be true.

I think the Gang of Four presented as they did due to a wish to keep the peace. I do feel there was real concern that this incident could lead to rioting in Cincinnati, as it has in the past. I think they looked to Ferguson Missouri and Baltimore Maryland, and decided it would be best to throw Ray Tensing under the bus to appease the masses. It calls to mind the Christians being thrown to the lions to appease the angry Roman Crowd. The problem is, who is going under the bus if Ray Tensing is found not guilty. Who will be fed to the hungry lions if Ray Tensing is not only found not guilty but sues to get his job back? I don’t know if any of this will ever happen, I am just saying what if. But please remember, even if it is your only take away from this article. Ray Tensing is innocent until proven guilty.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?




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    • Anthony on July 31, 2015 at 10:14 am
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    I completely agree.

    • Kim on July 31, 2015 at 11:07 am
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    Excellent article, Tom. And, written by someone who actually DOES know what a police officer legally can or cannot do.

  1. Well stated !

    • Autumn Benken on July 31, 2015 at 12:29 pm
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    Very well said. I don’t EXACTLY know what happened. I am not a Forensic Analyst and will not be examining the video frame by frame. I do know when asked questions, you must answer…if not that gives the Officer a reason for suspicion. This unfortunate death would not have happened in the first place if Dubose actually answered the questions without hesitation and changing his story. And especially, when asked to get out of your vehicle….you do what the Officer asked!!! I don’t know if it the gunshot was intentional or not. It is a bit fuzzy. But I agree, Tensing is innocent until proven guilty. I just hope that the ENTIRE TRUTH comes out and that there are no cover-ups to save Tensing or a world filled with hate who will end up rioting if the verdict comes back not – guilty.

      • nick on August 1, 2015 at 6:27 pm
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      The unfortunate death wouldn’t have happened, if the victim was not shot in the head…

    • Anonymous on July 31, 2015 at 6:02 pm
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    steve…..I agree and i wonder how much influence washington dc had on this indictment, and how much video and other evidence did the grand jury hear

    • Paul on July 31, 2015 at 6:39 pm
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    Cincinnatian here….I am grateful to the policemen of Cincinnati for there service and I support all of them. Prosecutor Deters is polarizing in many cases. When he decides that someone needs to be prosecuted for a crime, he is often very vocal. Rarely do you here a prosecutor in a high profile case say “I am not convinced myself that the defendant is guilty but I will try my best to convince a jury that he is”. Similarly, the City of Cincinnati police chief, Blackwell, spoke unsurprising words.

    The Mayor and City Manager could have remained silent here, but yes, they both would have taken political heat for saying nothing.

    I make no judgments on the traffic stop. The enforcement of the front license plate law in Ohio is not exactly uniform, but it is a legal reason for a traffic stop. The questioning was legit. The decedent was no stranger to dealing with police and should have known better how to comply.

    However, the officer’s actions were improper from the moment he reached into the vehicle. The brevity of time between any recognizable car movement or body movement on the decedent’s part and the drawing and near point blank discharge of the officer’s firearm is fairly mind boggling.

    I will certainly wait on the legal process to play all the way out. Legal verdicts aren’t always justice. OJ Simpson was guilty of murdering two people, but “not guilty’ was the verdict. I do not go around correcting people who say OJ did it. The officer’s body can video is pretty damning. He never claimed an accidental discharge in Hus statements. To do so now would ring very hollow.

    I am throwing my support behind all OTHER police officers. This one made a horrible decision and killed a guy.

    • Anonymous on July 31, 2015 at 8:53 pm
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    Well said !

    • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 12:42 am
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    The problem I have with the body cam footage is that the officer kept saying he was “dragged.” I saw no dragging, none. With all the police shootings, I can say, that I too would not have wanted to get out of my car. Seems like, from the video, that things escalated way to fast.

    1. It does not matter what he said or did not say. What matters is what can be proven in court.

      • Char Char Binks on January 20, 2016 at 1:16 pm
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      DuBose wasn’t simply accelerating forward. He turned the car sharply to the left, INTO Officer Tensing, who was already leaning into the car. This is obvious because of the car parked about 20 yards ahead of him that he had to clear, and is shown on the body cam video of the other officer who came to Tensing’s aid. A man doesn’t need to be hooked or held to be dragged by a car; positioning, direction of force, and gravity all play their parts. Tensing was dragged. Here’s an example of just that sort of thing —

  2. Wait a second here pal. Nobody seems to be denying or questioning anyones ability to ask a question again when you did not get an answer. Why you even make that part of this conversation is strange. I’m sure mr. dubose knew from previous stops that a cop can simply run a name and determine valid license as well as insurance and priors as well. I would think that is what a cop really wants to know at the end of a stop anyway. He wants to know who he is dealing with. In fact, how many false flags like failure to signal, are used to find outstanding warrants or a dui. Furthermore, it is okay to question why he would be asked to take his seatbelt off and why the cop unholstered his gun. Maybe if he ran his name he would have known to unholster his gun because he might have found he was dealing with a very dangerous man….or not. Yet you want to raise the possibliity that his gun discharged by accident. He unholstered the darn thing. Why? Frankly, I’d be a bit concerned if a cop choose to start opening my car door. This UC cop was 25 years old. He’s a kid; kids make silly choices sometimes. if the public wants to assume he is guilty because this video exists, then so be it. It does not mean the courts are doing the same. Your article is stupid.

    • TLE on August 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm
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    ” I’m sure mr. dubose knew from previous stops that a cop can simply run a name and determine valid license as well as insurance and priors as well” First, without photo identification, who is to know whether a person is, whom they claim to be? Second, in our country, as stated, a person is innocent until proven guilty (beyond a reasonable doubt, I might add).
    Therefore, but by the Grace of God, go I.
    I can not begin to imagine what Mr. Dubose’s family must be feeling. On one hand, perhaps one might think, “If only he …”
    Just like armchair quarterbacks. We can all make perfect evaluations, AFTER the fact. Let the facts be heard, let the jury of the officer’s peers determine, and above all, innocent until proven guilty.

    • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 12:56 pm
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    So much ignorance in these comments. How would he know who he was without photo identification? The in car computer…would show his photo if the officer ran his name as Mr. Dubose asked him to do. Innocent until proven guilty? Maybe the officer should have used that logic himself before shooting an unarmed man without ever being in any physical danger…. but Mr. Dubose had a bullet put in his head based on one persons judgement… Maybe Mr. Dubose would still be alive had he listened to the officers commands to get out of his car?…. That’s the same logic as hearing a woman was raped and the first question you ask is “what was she wearing” like they DESERVE what happened…Mr. Dubose not getting out of his car… is not a just reason to being shot in the head and killed. Period.

      • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 10:14 pm
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      Everyone seems to be completely ignoring the fact the man not only pulled his door closed but immediately started his car and placed it in gear to leave. Not saying what happened wasn’t a bad deal but the officer will not be convicted for murder. Whether you like it or not the man did resist. Also do just a little more investigating and watch the body cam film of the officer on the passenger side of the car.

        • Anonymous on August 2, 2015 at 8:35 pm
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        How did he resist? He was never placed under arrest. He was asked to take his seatbelt off. He was never asked to get out of the car. Tensing was already opening the car door too, which I have never seen police do. He did refuse to take his seatbelt off. Tensing put himself in danger by reaching into the vehicle with his left hand. Almost simultaneously, his right arm is bringing the gun up. You can also see in the video that Dubose puts his hands up and leans away towards the passenger seat, likely because he is seeing the gun. By then it is too late…

    • KMJ on August 1, 2015 at 1:17 pm
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    I completely agree. And from what I understand from other police officers, it’s normal procedure for a police officer to ask someone who cannot provide a drivers license to step out of their car. Many will even handcuff you. This is so you cannot flee or go after a weapon while the officer goes back to his car while he runs the information you give them.

      • Vested Interest on August 2, 2015 at 1:50 pm
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      By the way, just simply NOT having your driver license on your person is also a violation of the law in Ohio…….just sayin.

        • Anonymous on January 21, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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        4507.35 Failure to Display Ohio Revised Code

    • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 1:35 pm
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    `100 percent agree. The wording of the law is a mindset that people tend to think guilty until proven innocent I myself have looked at many video but I will keep that opinion until the said jurors have their day in court. My feeling is they have money get a great attorney and motion to move out of Hamilton County. The penalty is another thing I am sure will come up a simple statement of guilty by reason of insanity VS not guilty by reason of insanity would save many issues. People think because they are not guilty they will go home sometime soon and that is not fact. They typically end up in a psychiatric unit for years or life. I am very interested in this case and will be following. I do question did it appear to you the car started moving when he started to exit the car? There is a 3 second period of reasonable doubt if played right.

    • Jason on August 1, 2015 at 2:01 pm
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    A lot can be inferred from what we know about Dubose. 75 arrests, several for violence and drug offenses. A suspended license. He knew that his license was suspended which is why he wanted the officer to go back to his car and run it. It would give him more time to make his escape. He had already lied about being the owner of the car. I supect that the officer had already surmised that an arrest was emminent thus the reasoning for taking Dubose out of the car. Not that the officer needed a reason to remove him.Dubose was a career criminal and is dead now because he reverted to his default.

    • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 4:03 pm
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    This article was very well written and I agree with you 100%.

    • tarawa1943 on August 1, 2015 at 5:26 pm
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    Tom, excellent article, the country is raising up folks with communistic crowd lynching mentality. Let the Constitution, Bill of rights , ROL continue to lead the way. The Legal process needs to continue in truth and ignore the lynch crowd mentality

  3. how can you even think that someone does not have to say or do what the officer says? Number 0ne _ he had his drivers license suspended INDEFINITELY AND HE SHOULD NOT HAVE EVEN BEEN BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THAT CAR! . Should he be dead? I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but that is besides the point! If he had done what the officer told him, there would be no problem!

    • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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    Police resort to lethal force entirely too quickly. I don’t care about Mr, Dubose’s past. You shouldn’t be killed for not having a license or license plate, Period.

    1. Do you honestly think the Officer intentionally kill he due to a minor ta
      Raffia infraction?

    • Andy on August 1, 2015 at 6:50 pm
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    After watching the video several times, the only logical conclusion I can draw is that not only was it murder, it was premeditated murder. As soon as the guy refused to get out of the car that cop knew he was gonna kill him, the is no other way to explain how fast he drew and fired, that was some Clint Eastwood/ John Wayne shit.

      • Anonymous on August 1, 2015 at 11:20 pm
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      You may be the most ignorant person on this thread! Please don’t bread!

        • Anonymous on August 2, 2015 at 7:34 pm
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        Breed. Not Bread.

  4. His ‘sworn duty’ is to SERVE first, and PROTECT second. Not SHOOT first, ASK questions later. Should have just let him speed off to just catch up to him 2 miles down the road.

    1. If he had done that and it resulted in a pursuit and some one was killed as a result then the officer would be blamed for that as well.

        • Andy on August 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm
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        That is such a stupid argument, “what if he ran over a kid while driving away?” Ok…what if he cured cancer next week? What if he was really an alien from mars who was here to warn us about an alien invasion from Venus? Smh

        1. I will refrain from using such denigrating remarks as stupid when replying. I choose to take the high road. I would hope everyone who has not walked in the shoes of a police officer would realize that there is much more to doing the job then they realize. Or to put it in simpler terms, make sure you know what you are talking
          about. Thank you for your input.

          • Char Char Binks on February 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm
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          DuBose was in no danger of curing cancer.

    • #AllLivesMatter on August 1, 2015 at 11:34 pm
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    This case will be interesting. Yes, experts will view the video frame by frame, just as bloggers already have. Using markers such as cars, poles, oil marks on the street, Google maps and such, bloggers have estimated the officer was dragged 20 feet and then the officer landed on his butt. The prosecutor dismissed the officer landing on his butt by saying it was caused by the recoil of the gun when the shot was fired. Facts do matter and they will come out in trial, but I am doubtful the officer gets a fair trial.

    • NonConformist on August 2, 2015 at 1:07 am
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    If you really believe that the average arrestee/detainee is considered innocent until proven guilty I think your perspective is a bit off. The truth is, we are guilty until proven innocent and that innocence depends on how much money you have. Overall, justice is won buy money. That’s the bigger problem with our judicial system. All sides represented should be required to have equal financial prosecution and defense.

    The video is inconclusive as far as I can tell. The officer repeatedly stated that he was afraid of being dragged and discharged the round purposely. This would indicate by his own admission that he intended to shoot and it was not an accident. The officer did not ask the man to exit the vehicle, he told him to take his seat belt off as he opened the car door. When the man put the key in the ignition, the officer grabbed his seat belt.

    It does seem that the officer was either dragged or ran along the car for a short time; he was about 15 feet forward from where he was standing at the stop when he fell down.

    But, it’s 2015 and the climate is not favorable for this officer. Whether he is guilty of murder or not he will be made into an example. I think people have had enough corruption though…. e.g. Martin Lee Anderson (age 15) was killed by 7 people in Florida – caught on camera – and all were acquitted.

    • NonConformist on August 2, 2015 at 1:16 am
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    Protocol should not be to grab a seat-belt when a car might drive away. That might be what Deters is referring to.

    • D.M. on August 2, 2015 at 2:13 am
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    Well written – I’m so glad you shared your exceptional insight! Agree 100%.

    • Anonymous on August 2, 2015 at 2:57 am
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    Very well written opinion. Unfortunately, as in most cases, only those who know the truth are those involved in the act. I’m curious if enhancement of recording material will be looked at for the police officers. I am the daughter of a 30 yr retired Police Officer so naturally Police Lives Matter to me but all I keep thinking is “what if that was me in the car?”. Nerves interrupt reaction and Mr. Dubose, based on the video on the body cam, seemed to rationally explain he did not have his physical ID card on him and when asked to step out the vehicle, I initially reach for my seatbelt & door knob all the time, which brings me to ask that question, ” What if that was me?”. Very good article though, only article I have read which includes the actual Law.

    • Gern on August 2, 2015 at 4:06 am
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    Did you not watch the same body cam video I did? The one I saw, the cop’s hand went from the roof of the car to his gun, pulled out the gun, and shot the driver. All in far less time than it took you to read that. I don’t care if the driver was the most wanted car thief in the state, there is zero reason to point blank shoot an unarmed man in the face. OK, the driver started the car and was possibly/probably starting to pull away. Get on the radio, call for assistance to “head ’em off at the pass”. This case is a clear example of why body cams should be mandatory, and any willful tampering with the cams by officers should be grounds for immediate disciplinary action. Unpaid, by the way.

    • Jason on August 2, 2015 at 8:59 am
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    Andi. You do understand that ” To serve and protect ” is the motto of one agency and there no universal oath which containes that phrase?

    • Jason on August 2, 2015 at 9:10 am
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    I think as time passes we will see the persecution/prosecution of this officer fall apart much the same as Maralyn Moseby’s case is drowning in a sea of her own corruption and ineptitude.The AG was willing to sacrifice the officer for political expediency and to try to keep the city from being burned to the ground by mob violence. It worked but the AG should have been a man of courage and principle but he buckled and took the cowards path. It wouldnt suprise me that after the aquital and subsequent civil action if he isnt selling used cars like former Duke lacrosse prosecutor Nifong

    • Anonymous on August 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm
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    Nice article. A terrible incident. I have seen the videos and the frame by frame disections. I cannot, beyond a reasonable doubt, tell if he was dragged before or after the shot. Reaching into the vehicle was a bad tactical choice. Once the officer failed his key grab, he found himself in a possibly life threatening position. The defense will surely claim that Officer Tensing feared for his life; the justification for an affirmative defense of self defense. It doesn’t matter that his bad tactics put him in the danger, the victim’s control of the vehicle made him a threat. All media posturing aside, Mr. Deters will have a hard time proving murder.

    • Anonymous on August 2, 2015 at 10:32 pm
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    I applaud your thoughtful commentary and analysis of what appears to be a politically-driven rush to ‘justice’. Given probable cause, what else should an officer do but make the stop. If the driver has nothing to hide, why make a stressful situation even more stressful by being evasive.

    • Anonymous on August 3, 2015 at 12:08 am
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    First of all I want to say DuBose should not have been shot. I think that’s clear, but put yourself in the officers situation. He sees a car without a front license plate and runs the license to find that it’s own to a women. As seen in the video tensing is very polite but after repeatedly trying to get the truth out of DuBose and not getting eventually tensing has to be getting frustrated and honestly a little scared. So he attempts to get him out of the car and once again resists and decides to start the car. The video is hard to tell a lot of different things could of happened that honestly none of us truly know.
    What I think we can all agree on was tensing had no intentions of killing DuBose when he pulled him over. DuBose had many many chances to respect the officer and to do what he says. As an officer your life is on the line day after day and we need to all understand that. This whole idea of it being a racist thing is so ignorant! I would understand if a cop just walked up and killed a man but behind every one of these incidents is reasoning before why it happened. Now whether it was the right thing or not is to be answered but to say it’s due to racist is just plain wrong and makes me sick to see people say #blacklivesmatter when white cops are dying, (like today but it barely makes the media) and all races everyday! #alllivesmatter
    All in all in my opinion tensing deserves prison time but to give him life is just wrong. I just wish people would be more informed and not ignorant.

    • Anonymous on August 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm
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    Excellent article. I agree with you 100% As others have stated, the body cam does not prove anything. It’s not clear what is happening at the time of the shooting. It’s very possible that Officer Tensing was in fear for his life. I hope he is able to get a fair trial. I watched Joe Deters’ news conference last week in shock. He sounded like a one man judge and jury. His statements sounded like closing remarks to a jury.

    • All life matters on August 3, 2015 at 2:57 pm
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    Like Mr. Debose I have a choice to comply with the police when pulled over and questioned. If I do not comply the dynamics of the situation change and sometimes drastically. It is then a virtual roll of the dice as to what actions are set into motion. My choices and situational outcome is largely determined by me. I am very saddened by the events that unfolded for Mr. Debose and Mr. Tensing but a choice was made by both parties. Understandably a powder keg had been lit and Mr. Deters and city officials were then forced to diffuse the ensuing explosion for the sake of the community and city.

    • Anonymous on August 4, 2015 at 1:27 am
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    Watched the video and saw mr doubose reach up and put the car in gear and then was shot.

    • Anonymous on August 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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    A young white cop… That more than likely hates black people. No discussion… He shot a man… Point blank in the head. He needs to go to jail. You make the front license plate a bigger offense than murder.

    1. First I think you should offer an explanation of how you came to the conclusion that “he more than likely hates black people” before any discussion of the incident can be had. An assumption such as this only serves to further the division of all people of all races and cannot help to determine what happened that day. Consider if you have any hate in your heart first, then try to resolve it if you do.

      • Char Char Binks on February 19, 2016 at 12:24 pm
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      The great thing about accusing white folks of racism is that you don’t even have to TRY to prove it!

      • Char Char Binks on February 19, 2016 at 12:25 pm
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      No discussion!

    • Mike on January 19, 2016 at 11:02 pm
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    Excellent article Mr. Lind. You are presenting intellectual facts that most of the community won’t see or understand. Well written article. Oh, by the way, I can’t wait to see a not guilty verdict and Deters run out of town along with the Mayor and UC execs that through him under the bus as well.

Feel free to comment, why should I have the last word.

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