Mom of unarmed black man killed in a traffic stop: ‘Why is there even a trial?’

CINCINNATI — Raw emotion surrounding a former police officer accused of shooting an unarmed black man in his car roiled Wednesday at a church forum designed to answer questions about the officer’s murder trial, which begins in less than two weeks.

Raymond Tensing, at the time a University of Cincinnati police officer, pulled over Sam DuBose, 43, on July 19, 2015, in a Cincinnati neighborhood not far from the university’s campus because the 25-year-old officer said DuBose’s car was missing a front license plate. Tensing’s body-camera footage later revealed that the officer shot DuBose in the head at point-blank range after the black man didn’t turn off his car’s engine.

“Why is there even a trial? This was a cold-blooded murder,” Dubose’s mother, Audrey DuBose, said during a legal expert’s presentation. She contended that Tensing’s body-camera video should be enough to convict him.

University of Cincinnati officials fired Tensing almost immediately after the shooting.

The Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati sponsored the forum at New Prospect Baptist Church. More than 100 people, almost all of them African-Americans, attended the event, along with some community leaders and politicians.

“We thought we should educate,” Donyetta Bailey, president of the black lawyers group, said in her opening remarks. “We do not want you to watch the trial in a vacuum. Our hope is you will observe the trial.”

The legal experts presented information in the most neutral manner possible, yet questions from the audience revealed frustration at the Tensing case and the state of police-community relations.

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“It is important that the community learn from respected lawyers and judges what to expect at each stage of the trial, so there is no confusion and no surprises,” said Cincinnati Councilwoman Yvette Simpson, also a lawyer. “We can’t advocate what we don’t understand. Knowledge is power.”

If convicted of murder, Tensing would face a sentence of 15 years to life. A voluntary manslaughter conviction carries a sentence of 3 to 11 years.

Bailey also encourage her audience to vote. Ohio is one of 42 states that elect local judges, and 10 seats in various Hamilton County courts are on ballots Nov. 8, according to BallotPedia.org.

“If you don’t like the decisions judges make, I encourage you to go to the courthouse to see what the process is like,” she said. “If you don’t like what you see, vote on Election Day.”

After the forum, which lasted more than two hours, Sam DuBose’s mother spoke to reporters.

“We’re angry and we’re ready to get the ball rolling,” Audrey DuBose said when asked about the family’s mood.

She noted audience members’ support for her family but saw that many understandably had self-interest in mind.

“My son is gone,” she said. “This might happen to someone else’s child at any time.”

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