A white University of Cincinnati police officer was wearing a T-shirt with a picture of the Confederate flag when he shot dead an unarmed black motorist, a court has heard.
Ray Tensing, 26, has been charged with the murdering 43-year-old Samuel DuBose, after he pulled him over in July 2015 for a missing front license plate.
The black T-shirt was emblazoned with the Stars and Bars and the words ‘Great Smoky Mountains’, which appears to be in reference to the national park in Tennessee.
It was presented as evidence during a crime scene technician’s testimony at Tensing’s trial on Friday.
ensing’s trial on Friday.
The former officer was wearing the shirt underneath his uniform.
Tensing’s defense team briefly discussed the uniforms worn by UC police officers, according to WCPO.
Defense attorney Stew Mathews asked David Lindenschmidt and Phillip Kidd, who both witnessed the shooting, what type of shirts officers were required to wear underneath their uniforms.
Lindenschmidt and Kidd replied that the department did not provide undershirts for the officers and that they were required to wear black T-shirts.
Tensing had pleaded not guilty to the murder and voluntary manslaughter of DuBose, who was a father to 13 children.
The officer has maintained that he feared for his life and was forced to shoot DuBose in the head after allegedly being dragged underneath his car.
But the prosecution is arguing that Tensing’s bodycam footage contradicts his claims.
Tensing saw DuBose driving his 1998 green Honda Accord without a front license plate at about 6.30pm on July 19, 2015.
The officer asked to see DuBose’s driver’s license several times, but the father said he didn’t have it on him and was just heading home.
Tensing then asked DuBose to step out of his vehicle and, the video shows, at that point a struggle occurred.
As Tensing pulls the door open a few inches, DuBose can be seen pulling it closed and telling the officer, ‘I didn’t do nothing, man.’
As DuBose turns the key and revs the engine, Tensing pulls his gun, shouts, ‘Stop! Stop!’ and shoots DuBose once in the head through the open window.
The car, essentially being driven by a dying man at that point, managed to make it a block before slamming into a lamppost.
According to a police report, Tensing said he was being dragged along by the car and was forced to shoot. Lindenschmidt and Kidd corroborated his claims.
But Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters argued that video of the incident shows that wasn’t the case.
The shocking footage appears to show DuBose ‘slowly rolling away’ before Tensing shoots him in the head.
‘When you see this [the body cam video], you won’t believe how quickly he pulls his gun. Maybe a second — it’s incredible,’ Tensing said in July.
‘It’s an absolute tragedy that anyone would behave in this manner. It was senseless. It’s just horrible.’
‘He wasn’t dealing with someone wanted for murder. He was dealing with someone without a front license plate.’
In a lengthy press conference, the prosecutor added that the body cam footage was integral in filing charges.
Deters also said the shooting was ‘the most asinine act’ he had seen a police officer make in 30 years, adding that he believed Tensing ‘should never have been’ a cop.
Tensing had about three years of suburban police experience before joining the UC department in 2014. He had no record of using deadly force.
But an independent review commissioned by the university found that Tensing made more traffic stops and with a higher racial disparity than other UC officers.
And on Monday, Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Rick Gibson said Tensing had admitted in a taped interview with police that he ‘purposely caused the death of Sam DuBose’.
The taped comments were the reason why Tensing was facing a murder charge, Gibson told jurors.
‘This isn’t a whodunit, it’s not an accident,’ he added.
Stew Mathews, Tensing’s attorney, objected to the evidence being brought up in court, according to CNN.
Tensing has five years of law enforcement experience. He faces 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted of murder
Judge Megan Shanahan ordered Gibson to abstain from talking about the recording for the time being.
Shanahan issued a gag order on Friday, ordering lawyers on both sides not to talk about the trial over the weekend.
The judge only said that ‘issues have arisen’ in her explanation of the decision.
Tensing faces 15 years to life in prison if he is convicted of murder.
Meanwhile, the University of Cincinnati has restructured its public safety department and made reforms since the shooting.
It also agreed to a $5.3 million settlement with DuBose’s family that includes free undergraduate tuition for his 13 children.