In a year marked by deadly confrontations between African-Americans and police, a white University of Cincinnati officer has been indicted on a murder charge in the shooting of an unarmed black motorist near the campus in the midwestern state of Ohio.
Hamilton County prosecuting attorney Joseph Deters announced the grand jury indictment at a news conference, calling the death of Samuel DuBose “a senseless, asinine shooting.”
He said Ray Tensing, the white officer who shot DuBose in the head, never should have been a police officer. He did not elaborate.
The incident was the latest in a series of fatal police confrontations across the United States that have raised questions about police use of force against minorities.
Authorities have said Tensing spotted a car driven by DuBose that was missing a front license plate, which is required by Ohio law. They say Tensing stopped the car and a struggle ensued after DuBose refused to provide a driver's license and get out of the car.
Tensing has said he was dragged by the car and forced to shoot at DuBose. He fired one shot, striking DuBose in the head.
But a video from the body camera worn by the officer showed Tensing was never in danger during the July 19 incident.
Police said Tensing surrendered Wednesday and was processed on charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter. He will be arraigned Thursday and could face life in prison if convicted.
The University of Cincinnati fired Tensing on Wednesday and shut down its campus. City officials and DuBose's family called for a peaceful response to the indictment.
Cincinnati was convulsed with riots in 2001 after police shot an unarmed 19-year-old black man who was wanted for traffic violations. The Cincinnati police went through extensive reform after that incident, and an independent agency was set up to handle complaints against the police.
The incident is the latest in a string of deaths of black men at the hands of police in the past year, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, Freddie Gray in Baltimore and Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Prosecutors brought charges against officers in Baltimore and North Charleston.