WATCH: An American police officer has pled not guilty to shooting and killing a black man during a routine traffic stop. It’s extremely rare for an officer to be charged with murder for a death that happened in the line of duty. But in this case, as in many other, there is video evidence which for many speaks for itself. Jackson Proskow reports.
CINCINNATI – A white U.S. police officer who shot a black motorist after stopping him over a missing license plate pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter.
The July 19 death of 43-year-old Samuel DuBose in Cincinnati, Ohio, comes amid months of national scrutiny of police dealings with African-Americans, especially those killed by officers.
Officer Ray Tensing, 25, appeared at his arraignment Thursday wearing a striped jail suit, with his hands cuffed behind him.
WATCH: Body cam video of fatal shooting of Samuel DuBose
When Judge Megan Shanahan set bond at $1 million, people in the courtroom audience cheered and the judge rebuked them. The judge rejected the defence attorney’s contention that Tensing wasn’t a flight risk.
Tensing later posted 10 per cent of that amount and was released, the Hamilton County Court clerk’s website said. He was freed at about 6:30 p.m., county sheriff’s spokesman Mike Robison confirmed.
Tensing’s attorney Stewart Mathews said that there are two sides to the case and that the much-viewed body camera video of the stop can be interpreted differently from the prosecutor’s version.
Mathews described Tensing, who is due back in court in August, as “very depressed” and “in shock at this point,” adding that Tensing has felt “like he’s been run over by a train from the state of the case and it continues.” Tensing, who could face up to life in prison if convicted, has said he thought he was going to be dragged under the car and “feared for his life,” according to Mathews.
WATCH: University of Cincinnati cop Ray Tensing arraigned, $1 million bond applauded in courtroom
Authorities so far have not focused on race in the death of DuBose. But city officials who viewed video footage released from Tensing’s body camera said the traffic stop shouldn’t have led to a shooting.
Two campus police officers who responded to the shooting have been put on paid leave, university spokeswoman Michele Ralston confirmed Thursday.
Phillip Kidd and David Lindenschmidt are on leave while the university police department conducts an internal investigation, she said.
DuBose’s family has urged the community to remain calm, as it has in a series of demonstrations since the shooting. Tensing had stopped DuBose for a missing front license plate, which is required in Ohio but not in neighbouring states.
Mathews has said that a video from the body camera of a police officer who arrived right after the shooting shows Tensing lying in the street after he had gotten free of the car, but that video hasn’t been released by authorities.
“With the political climate in this country with white police officers shooting black individuals, I think they need somebody to make an example of,” Mathews said.
Authorities have said Tensing noticed the car driven by DuBose didn’t have a front license plate. They say Tensing stopped the car and a struggle ensued after DuBose failed to provide a driver’s license and refused to get out of the car.
“I didn’t even do nothing,” DuBose can be heard telling Tensing. DuBose held up what appears to be a bottle of gin.
Tensing fired once, striking DuBose in the head.