When Universities Have to Compensate the Victims of Campus Police

In June, Kate Briguelet, writing for the Daily Beast, reported on the death of Sam DuBose, 43. Dubose had been pulled over by a University of Cincinnati campus police officer Ray Tensing about a mile from the campus because his automobile was missing a front license plate.

The campus police have a “mutual aid” agreement with the city police; so the fact that the traffic stop took place a mile off campus is at least somewhat less puzzling than it might otherwise seem. Many students live off-campus, and patrolling the neighborhoods adjacent to the campus has become a priority for both police forces. Likewise, Ohio law requires that license plates be placed on both the front and rear ends of vehicles; so, even if the traffic stop was somewhat frivolous, it was not completely unjustified.

But what ensued after the traffic stop remained somewhat as shocking as it was ambiguous. Tensing apparently asked DuBose to produce his driver’s license, and when DuBose refused or failed to do so, Tensing ordered him to get out of his vehicle. Instead, after what Tensing described as a “tussle” at the window of DuBose’s automobile, DuBose attempted to drive away and Tensing shot him in the head. The car rolled about a block before coming to a stop. DuBose would be declared dead at the scene, and somewhere in the course of the incident, Tensing suffered some “bruising” on his legs. Although a bottle of liquor was found in DuBose’s automobile, no weapons were found in it or on his person.

DuBose was the father of 12 children.

Today, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the University of Cincinnati announced that it has reached a settlement with DuBose’s family. In a story filed by four reporters, the Cincinnati Enquirer has reported the following about the settlement:

“Details of the DuBose settlement include:

–payment to the DuBose family of $4.85 million.

–tuition-free UC undergraduate education for DuBose’s 12 children.

–an eventual on-campus memorial to DuBose.

–an apology from UC President Santa J. Ono.

–and an invitation for DuBose’s family to participate in Community Advisory Committee meetings aimed at creating comprehensive reform in the university police department.

“The undergraduate education for the 12 children, which covers tuition and fees, is valued at about $500,000.

“In the press release announcing the settlement, Ono’s only statement was addressed to the family: ‘I want to again express on behalf of the University of Cincinnati community our deepest sadness and regrets at the heartbreaking loss of the life of Samuel DuBose. This agreement is also part of the healing process not only for the family but also for our university and Cincinnati communities.’”

The reporters note that this settlement parallels the settlements reached with the families of Freddie Gray and Eric Garner by the cities of Baltimore and New York. But an article in Cincinnati’s CityBeat also notes that unlike the police officers who shot and killed Tamir Rice in Cleveland and John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio, Ray Tensing has been charged for killing DuBose:

“Police had said initially Tensing shot DuBose because he was being dragged by the vehicle. In indicting Tensing, however, Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters said video evidence shows this was not the case, instead calling the fatal shooting ‘without question a murder.’”


Kate Briguelet’s article can be found at: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/20/cincinnati-campus-cop-shoots-unarmed-black-man.html.

The article in the Cincinnati Enquirer is available at: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2016/01/18/uc-sam-dubose-family-reach-settlement/78957824/.

The article in CityBeat  is available at: http://citybeat.com/cincinnati/blog-6857-uc_dubose_family_rea.html.



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