CINCINNATI (AP) — A University of Cincinnati police officer who fatally shot a motorist during a traffic stop pleaded not guilty Thursday to a charge of murder and was ordered jailed on $1 million bail.
Fired UC officer Ray Tensing later posted 10 percent 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.
People in the courtroom audience had erupted into cheers and clapped when Tensing’s bail was set at $1 million, drawing the ire of Judge Megan Shanahan.
“Ladies and gentlemen! This is a courtroom,” the judge said sharply.
Tensing also pleaded not guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter in the July 19 shooting of Samuel DuBose, who was stopped for not having a front license plate.
Defense attorney Stewart Mathews said there are two sides to the case and the officer’s much-viewed body camera video of the traffic stop can be interpreted differently from the prosecutor’s version.
He described Tensing as “very depressed” and “in shock,” adding the officer felt “like he’s been run over by a train from the start of this case.”
Tensing, 25, was fired soon after he was indicted. He had been with the University of Cincinnati for more than a year after starting police work in 2011 in a Cincinnati suburb. He has a UC degree in criminal justice.
DuBose’s death comes after months of national debate about police use of force against African-Americans, especially when the force resulted in death. The 43-year-old DuBose was black; Tensing is white. But authorities have not focused on race as a factor in the slaying.
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.
Body camera footage from the two officers was released Thursday. Kidd can be heard saying he saw Tensing being dragged. And in other footage, Lindenschmidt can be heard telling another officer that Tensing “went down, got tangled in the car and drew his gun and fired.”
In Lindenschmidt’s video, Tensing can be seen on the ground and then getting up. But there is no indication on the video of how he ended up on the ground.
The prosecutor who brought the murder charge, Joe Deters, told The Cincinnati Enquirer that Kidd and Lindenschmidt testified before the grand jury that indicted Tensing.
Messages were left Thursday at the university police department for the two officers and at a home phone number listed for a David Lindenschmidt. No telephone listing for Kidd could be found.
Deters said the university should disband its department and turn over policing to the city.
University President Santa Ono rejected that, saying campus police duties are different from those of a city department.
“You need to have a knowledge of how to interact with students,” he said in an interview Thursday. “There are many different issues and federal guidelines that have to be followed that are very specific to campus policing.”
After DuBose was stopped, he failed to provide a driver’s license and refused to get out of the car.
“I didn’t even do nothing,” he can be heard telling Tensing.
DuBose held up what appears to be a bottle of gin.
Tensing has said he thought he was going to be dragged under the car and “feared for his life,” according to Mathews.
Tensing fired once, striking DuBose in the head.
“This officer was wrong,” city police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said Wednesday, adding that officers “have to be held accountable” when they’re in the wrong.
Deters scoffed at Tensing’s claim that he was dragged by DuBose’s car, saying the officer “purposely killed him.” Using words such as “asinine” and “senseless,” the veteran prosecutor known for tough stands on urban crime called it “a chicken crap” traffic stop.
“It was so unnecessary,” Deters said. He added that Tensing “should never have been a police officer.”
Deters has said the officer should have just let DuBose drive off.