Cincinnati promises reform after Samuel Dubose’s death but a family demands justice and answers
Kimberly Thomas stood in the pouring rain Sunday at the intersection where her brother, Samuel Dubose, was shot dead by police one week prior. The loss of her “biggest fan” has been devastating, just as she was planning to open a new restaurant with Dubose’s assistance.
“They took a community man,” she said. “He was my children’s dad … he taught my children how to be a man. He was an excellent, amazing person.”
Dubose had been urging her “for years” to open a vegan restaurant, Thomas said, an offshoot of her catering business.
She recalled Dubose telling her, “‘You gonna get this restaurant, sis.”
“I was ready,” she said, “and they took my brother way from me.”
Dubose, 43, was fatally shot last week by officer Ray Tensing of the University of Cincinnati’s police department during a routine traffic stop. His death comes amid intense scrutiny of police-involved shootings nationwide, particularly of unarmed black men.
“My son was murdered, and I’m not getting no answers,” Samuel’s mother Audrey Dubose said at the start of a protest over Dubose’s death Sunday night.
Hundreds of protesters made their way from the UC police department headquarters through the gentrified university district, before assembling at the intersection of Rice and Valencia, where Dubose died. Protesters remarked about how several cars along Jefferson Avenue lacked a front license plate: That’s the reason Tensing pulled over Dubose on 19 July.
Around 6.30pm that evening, Tensing spotted Dubose driving near the campus and, about a half-mile away in the historic district of Mount Auburn, pulled him over – outside of UC campus boundaries. (The university has since suspended off-campus traffic stops.)
After Dubose was pulled over, police said he didn’t show his driver’s license, produced a bottle of alcohol and refused to leave his vehicle. Details of what happened next are scant, as Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters has withheld dashcam footage from Tensing’s bodycam, pending the outcome of his investigation, which he expects to be completed Wednesday. A probe by the Cincinnati police department has since completed.
In a 911 dispatch call, Tensing, who is white, said he was “almost run over” by Dubose’s vehicle, before he fired one shot, striking Dubose in the head. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
But the officer’s remark in the call is markedly different from the incident report, which says he was “dragged” by Dubose’s vehicles. That’s why protesters on Sunday reiterated their call for Deters, the prosecutor, to publicly release the tape before the investigation concludes, saying the lack of footage would answer questions about the apparent inconsistencies that have since surfaced in Tensing’s version of events. And the storyline presented in the official incident report doesn’t comport with Dubose’s character, friends and family said. (The university’s public safety department didn’t respond to several requests by the Guardian for comment by phone and email.)
Dubose was a “sweet, gentle, kind” person, said a woman named Dana who declined to give her last name. Dubose grew up in the same household as her cousin, she said.
“There’s no excuse for what they did,” she said. “Everyone who knew him, loved him.”
A woman standing at her side named Ramona, who also declined to give her last name, echoed the remark, saying Dubose was “a good man.”
She added: ”They picked the wrong one this time.”
‘A linchpin’ for the community
Friends and family described Dubose as a jokester, someone who loved to make them smile whenever possible.
His brother, Aubrey Dubose, said reports have unfairly portrayed Samuel as a criminal and uncaring father. “Sam was a good man,” he said. Samuel has been charged more than 70 times for non-violent crimes, and his license was suspended by the state in January. He also has upwards of 20 children, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. But that’s irrelevant, his brother said, and incorrectly portrays Dubose in a false light. “The media wants to mention how he has a lot of kids – he knows all his kids,” Audrey Dubose said.
Solomon Oyeyemi said he was a longtime friend through music of Dubose, an emcee who went by the name MC Bezel.
“He was kind of a linchpin for a lot of people in this community,” Oyeyemi told the Guardian.
Dubose played an “integral” role in a local studio, a mainstay for local rappers.
“He helped a lot of people stay out of trouble just by utilizing his studio and his know-how with what he was doing,” Oyeyemi said.