An Ohio police officer who shot a black man during a routine traffic stop was charged with murder Wednesday in what prosecutors called a “senseless” act motivated by anger.
“He wasn’t dealing with someone who was wanted for murder — he was dealing with someone with a missing license plate,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph Deters told reporters.
The case comes as the United States grapples with heightened racial tensions in the wake of a series of high-profile incidents of African Americans being killed by police in disputed circumstances.
Deters said he hopes the swift action by his office will show that justice is being done in this case.
University of Cincinnati campus police officer Ray Tensing initially told investigators that he shot Sam DuBose in the head after DuBose tried to drive away and dragged the officer along with him.
“You will not believe how quickly he pulls his gun and shoots him in the head. It’s maybe a second. It’s incredible. And so senseless,” Deters said as he prepared to release the video.
A lawyer for Officer Tensing, Stew Mathews, disputed Deters’s comments during an interview with an Ohio television station and said that other video of the shooting would tell a completely different story.
The university shut down its campus and placed barricades at entrances out of concern that the news could lead to protest or even violence.
City officials pressed for peace and said they were prepared “for any scenarios that present themselves.”
A series of sometimes violent protests have broken out across the United States in response to other high-profile police shootings over the past year.
Cincinnati was struck by days of violent unrest following the police shooting of an unarmed black man in 2001.
Tensing, 25, had been a police officer for four years, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.