Family, university reach $5.3M deal in shooting death
Cincinnati — The family of a man shot and killed by a University of Cincinnati police officer who pulled him over for not having a front license plate has reached a $5.3 million settlement with the school.
The deal announced Monday gives the family of Samuel DuBose $4.85 million and promises free undergraduate tuition for his 12 children. The agreement also provides for a memorial commemorating DuBose and an apology from the university.
“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,” University of Cincinnati President Santa Ono said in a statement. “This agreement is also part of the healing process not only for the family but also for our university and Cincinnati communities.”
DuBose, 43, was shot and killed behind the wheel of his car on July 19 after Officer Ray Tensing stopped him near campus for missing a front license plate, which is required by Ohio law.
Tensing was charged with murder and pleaded not guilty.
Tensing said that after he stopped the car, Dubose refused to provide a driver’s license and get out.
A struggle ensued as DuBose tried to drive away, and Tensing said he fired because he feared being dragged under the car, said his attorney, Stewart Matthews.
Matthews said a hearing to set a trial date has been scheduled for Feb. 11.
He declined to comment on the specifics of the settlement other than to characterize it as “negative.” He said the settlement will be an issue once it comes time to question potential jurors.
“Their knowledge of the settlement is one aspect that could affect their ability to be fair and impartial, and you try to find that out,” he said.
Matthews had tried to get the case moved to another county, arguing that Tensing couldn’t get a fair trial because of comments by city officials and Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters. Deters has dismissed Tensing’s claim that he was being dragged, and he said body camera footage of the shooting shows it was “without question a murder.”
The shooting occurred during heightened scrutiny across the United States of police treatment of blacks, after a string of police-inflicted deaths from Ferguson, Missouri, to Chicago sparked sometimes-violent protests over the past year and a half.
Dubose, who was unarmed, was black, and Tensing is white.
The university settlement also provides for the DuBose family to participate in meetings with a Community Advisory Committee, which is soliciting community input on police reform and will review the results of an external audit of the university’s police force.
Mark O’Mara, a civil rights attorney representing Dubose’s family, said the family hopes the tragedy can be a springboard to improving relations between police and the community so it doesn’t happen again.
“We have to have a discourse on how do we make our cops better cops,” O’Mara said. “And the flipside to that coin is, we have to figure out how to better interact with cops.”