CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell said he’s seen the unreleased footage from a University of Cincinnati officer’s body camera during last week’s fatal shooting and “it’s not good.”
“The video is not good,” Blackwell said. “I think the city manager has said that also publicly. I’ll leave it there.”
After meeting with faith leaders Monday morning, Blackwell spoke to WCPO about the shooting death of 43-year-old Sam Dubose by UC Officer Ray Tensing during a traffic stop.
“I don’t want to put my personal feelings out prematurely,” Blackwell said. “I just hope that the right thing continues to be done in this investigation and that we’re able to move forward from this and allow this to be a moment of learning and teaching for our city.”
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City Manager Harry Black also spoke about the unreleased body camera video of the shooting.
“It’s not a good situation,” Black said. “It’s a tragic situation, someone has died that did not necessarily need to die.”
University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono, UC Police Chief Jason Goodrich, Black, Blackwell and others met with prominent local faith leaders Monday morning to discuss the July 19 shooting.
Ono also issued a statement after the meeting saying:
This morning, several senior leaders of the University of Cincinnati met with members of the City Manager’s Advisory Group to hear their thoughts and perspectives about how best to move forward together in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. As the result of multiple conversations this past week with community leaders, which were reiterated this morning, the university is initiating a process to hire an independent external reviewer to examine UC Police Department policies, procedures and practices. We also are moving forward with the creation of a community advisory panel. These are important steps to create an enhanced environment of openness and healing.”
Cincinnati Police officials said Tensing shot and killed Dubose after pulling his vehicle over in Mount Auburn. What exactly led Tensing to fire his weapon is still unclear. An incident report released last week stated Tensing was “dragged” by Dubose’s vehicle.
Black said he hasn’t seen the video but that his understanding is the video “is not good.”
The issue is a sore point in the community and Black spoke candidly about the withholding of the video.
The city manager described the issue as a balancing act — that officials have to weigh releasing some information against preserving the integrity of the investigation.
“We would like for the video to be out there. But what is more paramount in getting the video out is that justice be served. To the extent that holding the video allows the process ample time to exact appropriate justice, that’s what’s most important as far as I’m concerned,” Black said.
The case is with the grand jury and the process should be finished by the end of this week.
Mayor John Cranley also waded into the situation saying, “We’re in a position to lend a hand to UC so that they can reform their system as we have reformed ours over the last 15 years. In the end, the goal of all that is to protect civil rights as a non-negotiable issue as we have, but then once that baseline is set to go attack the violence and reduce the shootings that are too prevalent in our city.”
The chief commented about the possibility of unrest once the video is released.
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“We’re concerned clearly. We’re concerned about what could happen in our city. We’re hopeful that the people of this great city are reminded that we do things right and that even when an officer may have done something inappropriate that it will be dealt with in an appropriate fashion,” Blackwell said.
He said he hears the chatter in the community and is asking for local community leaders to “stand up” to keep the peace.
Cincinnati police said they have a plan in place to handle the community’s reaction should it get out of hand.
Several pastors said Friday they felt betrayed by Ono in the aftermath of the shooting. The group challenged Ono to defy Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and release body camera footage of the shooting.
The university released an incident report about the shooting last Thursday, but Deters has not released the body camera video. The pastors said that was unfair of the university to do so.
The pastors said the report only gives the officer’s side of the story. Ono has since ordered that UC police stop patrolling off campus.
Blackwell agreed with Ono’s decision to stop campus police from patrolling off-campus.
“Because, we have to know what the training regiment was like. We have to know what their cultural diversity is like and their culture and the way we police in Cincinnati, which post-collaborative is probably different than any other city in the United States and that’s a tall order if you will,” Blackwell said.
The chief said he believes Ono will do everything in his power to make sure the incident doesn’t happen again.