Media sue for video in Ohio fatal traffic-stop shooting

AP News
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Posted: Jul 24, 2015 10:37 PM
Media sue for video in Ohio fatal traffic-stop shooting

CINCINNATI (AP) — A lawsuit to force a prosecutor to release video from a University of Cincinnati police officer's fatal shooting of a motorist during a traffic stop was filed Friday by The Associated Press and other media.

The lawsuit in the Ohio Supreme Court in Columbus follows numerous unfulfilled requests to Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit, which also includes plaintiffs The Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati television stations WCPO, WXIX, WKRC and WLWT, asks the court to order Deters to publicly release the video.

The FOIA requests and the lawsuit seek all video related to UC Officer Ray Tensing's July 19 shooting of Samuel Dubose, 43. The lawsuit states that withholding the video violates Ohio's open records laws.

The prosecutor has no valid excuse for refusing to permit the media and the public to inspect and copy the video, and "no valid excuse for failing to comply with Ohio law," the lawsuit states.

Deters' spokeswoman, Julie Wilson, said Friday they hadn't seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.

The prosecutor has refused to release body-camera footage until his investigation is completed.

"We need time to look at everything and do a complete investigation so that the community is satisfied that we did a thorough job," he said in a statement Thursday.

Deters also said that the grand jury hasn't seen the video and he did not want to taint the jury process.

Dubose's death comes amid months of national scrutiny of police interactions with African-Americans, especially those killed by officers. Dubose was black; Tensing is white. Authorities haven't said whether race is a consideration in their investigation.

Authorities have said Tensing spotted a car driven by Dubose and missing the front license plate, which is required by Ohio law. They say Tensing stopped the car and a struggle ensued after Dubose refused to provide a driver's license and get out of the car.

Tensing said he was dragged by Dubose's car and forced to shoot, according to a university police report. In his radio call to a dispatcher, Tensing said the car almost ran over him and he fired one shot, striking Dubose in the head.

Deters said Friday that he expects to make his assessment on the case by Wednesday and make any presentations to a grand jury by the end of next week.

Dubose's family and others also have called for the release.

The lawsuit also asks that the court award the media outlets filing the lawsuit all court costs, attorneys' fees and any statutory damages that may apply.