Editorial from The Cincinnati Enquirer The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office should immediately release all video of the fatal shooting of Samuel Dubose by University of Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing.
Officials have disclosed that there is video of the Sunday night incident in Mount Auburn, which started as a traffic stop over a missing front license plate on the car Dubose was driving. Yet it hasn't been released. That’s unacceptable and unusual. Cincinnati police, with whom UC police work closely, usually release video of police-involved shootings within 24 hours, but not in this case.
On Wednesday, UC President Santa Ono said the university had been prepared to release the video, but was held back by the prosecutor’s office. The Cincinnati Police Department performed the initial investigation of the case. But City Manager Harry Black said the prosecutor’s office ordered video of the incident held back pending completion of the investigation. Ohio’s open records law doesn’t allow for such a reason. The prosecutor’s office on Wednesday emailed an Enquirer reporter to say it wouldn’t release the video because doing so could jeopardize the investigation. Again, no such justification exists in Ohio’s open records law. Saying something does not make it so.
No more stalling. Release all video of the shooting.
It’s important for members of the community to remain calm about the matter while the investigation unfolds. There’s a lot going right in the aftermath of this tragic incident. CPD was the appropriate agency to investigate the shooting based not only on jurisdiction but due to its experience with such matters. UC police and CPD quickly spoke publicly about what they felt they could say, and UC Police Chief Jason Goodrich spoke directly to Dubose’s family and concerned community members at a Tuesday rally on campus. Prosecutor Joe Deters has promised a rapid investigation of the shooting death, with results by the end of next week. At Wednesday’s press conference with Mayor John Cranley, UC’s Ono showed leadership in saying the university wants to participate in the collaborative agreement formed in the wake of the unrest in 2001 after the fatal shooting of African-American Timothy Thomas by a white police officer. Cranley said CPD will work with UC police on best practices regarding the use of force. Again, all good things based on past success.
But Dubose’s family members and the community at large are correct when they insist they have a right to more information about what happened to Dubose, and soon. Such transparency starts, but won’t end, with the video footage of an encounter that resulted in an unarmed man killed by a police officer’s bullet.
It’s unusual in Cincinnati for a police officer to shoot and kill a citizen. This is a serious, special case. Officials must be as transparent as possible, as required by state law.