CINCINNATI (Reuters) - A former University of Cincinnati police officer charged with murdering a black Ohio man during a traffic stop was not dragged or in danger of being run over, a prosecution witness testified on Thursday, contradicting the officer’s statement that he felt in danger of being pulled under the vehicle.
The car that Ray Tensing, 26, stopped in July 2015 was moving forward about a second before the former officer shot Samuel DuBose, 43, in the head, Grant Fredericks, a forensic video analyst, said at the trial in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas in Cincinnati.
Tensing had pulled DuBose over near the university campus for a missing front license plate on his vehicle.
DuBose attempted to prevent the officer from opening the door before the car started slowly rolling forward. Tensing, who is white, pulled his gun and fired once.
The killing fueled demonstrations against use of lethal force by white officers against unarmed black men and other minorities. Another white police officer is also on trial this week in the April 2015 shooting of an unarmed black man in South Carolina.
Fredericks, who studied video of the incident captured by Tensing’s body camera, concluded DuBose’s car moved forward one to two feet before the shot was fired, but Tensing was not dragged.
Tensing previously said he was being dragged by DuBose’s car and believed he would be pulled under the vehicle. His attorney, Stew Mathews, said Tuesday that DuBose was using his car to harm Tensing and the officer shot DuBose to protect himself.
Fredericks, when asked by Mathews, acknowledged the car was moving before the shot was fired. Mathews said after Thursday’s testimony that Fredericks’ opinion was no better than that of the jury. He added that Tensing planned to testify in his defense.
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters previously said the officer’s version of events was false.
Tensing pleaded not guilty to murder and was released on $1 million bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life imprisonment.
Reporting by Ginny McCabe, Writing by Ben Klayman; editing by Grant McCool