Grand jury decision due in University of Cincinnati police shooting

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 29, 2015 11:24 AM

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - The Hamilton County prosecutor on Wednesday planned to announce a grand jury decision on whether to bring charges against a University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man this month.

Prosecuting Attorney Joseph Deters will also release a body-camera video of the shooting, his office said, as the city braced for possible unrest.

Deters called a news conference for 1 p.m. and the University of Cincinnati said it was shutting its uptown campus out of an "abundance of caution" before the announcement.

"We realize this is a challenging time for our university community," the university said in a statement. All classes at the Uptown and Medical campuses were suspended as of 11 a.m.

Deters' office had planned to release the body camera video on Thursday, but moved the date up. Authorities did not say whether the camera was worn by Ray Tensing, the University of Cincinnati police officer, or another officer.

Tensing, who is white, killed Samuel Dubose, 43, on July 19 after pulling him over near the school because his car lacked a license plate, police and city officials said.

Tensing said he was forced to shoot Dubose because he was almost run over by him, according to an official report from the school, which also indicated that at least one other campus officer witnessed the shooting.

Tensing told another officer he was dragged by the car, but local media have reported he did not tell emergency dispatchers that when he called in the shooting. The police video of the shooting could help clarify what happened.

The incident was the latest in a series of fatal police confrontations across the United States that have raised questions about police use of force against minorities.

Tensing's lawyer, Stuart Mathews, told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Tuesday he thought it was likely Tensing would face criminal charges.

"Given the political climate of the situation, I would not be astounded if an indictment is returned. I am hopeful it will not happen," he told the newspaper.

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley told media on Tuesday that city officials were preparing for possible demonstrations.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Steve Bittenbender in Louisville, Kentucky; Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Doina Chiacu)