Samuel DuBose 

Again, I find myself writing about an incident of police on black violence. And again, I find myself referencing a TYT segment. However, unlike the last 2, I don’t really have anything to critique about their coverage this time. They (Cenk) remained as objective as I would expect, and raised  the same concerns that I had noticed whilst viewing the video last night on a news channel. 

So this post is more, for those that are bound  to cite this as just another act of police brutality against a black person, without context. Making reference to te situation without acknowledging fault from both sides. 

Let’s begin. 

The video starts with the traffic stop.Throughout  the video, all parties remain quite calm, until the end. 

Officer Tensing approaches and gives Sam a friendly greeting (which is then returned). Tensing then asks Sam for his license and registration, and tells him why he was pulled over (missing front tag, illegal in Ohio apparently). First the officer asks if (and has it confirmed) the vehicle is Samuel’s. He then asks if Sam has the front tag, and Sam showed he did (in the cars glove box). 

After informing Sam that the plate has to be on the front of his vehicle and asking for his registration again, Tensing asks about a bottle that he sees on the floor. Sam hands it (a sealed bottle of Gin)  to Tensing, who again asks for Sam’s licence (placing the bottle on the roof, presumably to give back at the end of the traffic stop). 

Sam seems to search around inside of his vehicle and says something to Tensing, which causes him to again ask if he has his licence on him.  

Sam states that he has his licence, but the officer can run his name. Tensing  responds with the vocal assumption that he does not have his licence on him (AGAIN, asking Sam to produce it). 

Sam then responds by asking “What did you pull me over for?”. Tensing  respods with “Again, the front tag”. 

Sam: “But its not illegal to not have a front tag”

Tensing: “Actually yes, it is. I am going to ask you again. Do you have a license on you?”

Sam: “I have a license, you can run my name”

Tensing: “Okay, is that not on you then?”

Sam: “I don’t think I have it on me”

Tensing: “Be straight up with me. Are you suspended?”

Sam: “I’M not suspended”

Tensing: “Then why don’t you have your licence on you?”

Sam now says that he just dosen’t and says sorry, getting an “Okay” response from Tensing.  

Tensing then asks him about his address, and is told its just down the street. 

This is where the situation, explodes. 

Tensing remarks that he is still trying to figure out if Sam has a licence or not, and asks Sam to take off his seatbelt. Sam says something that sounds like “Man, why are you doing that?” while locking his door and starting the engine of the car. Before you know it, you hear “Stop! Stop!” (from the officer), and then Sam is dead. Shot in the head. 

This case is extremely unfortunate. While I am going to have criticisms of Samuel, I am still in agreement that this course of action by Officer Tensing  was WAY over the top. In a sense, I can understand part of what may have been going though Tensing’s mind. 

Some years ago, my roommate went out on an alcohol and drug fuelled drive around the city late at night. The situation was at first under control since I had taken the keys and fucked off for a while. But I was later convinced that they had changed their mind (were not going to drive), and wanted to go somewhere (they needed the house key). Being satisfied with the explanation, I gave the keys back. Only to have them drive off with tires squealing. 

Being I suspected that I knew where they were headed, I biked the short distance to that place and found them in the vehicle (engine running). I stopped right in front of it, only to have them step on the gas a bit. I got the hell out of the way (leaving my bike). I proceeded to the drivers side and attempted to take the keys, but failed when they hit the gas (almost taking me for a ride). 

Being they ran over my bike, I let out a string of expletives that woke up half the neighbourhood (seen lights coming on all over the place lol). Though they broke the handle bars on my bike (and the oil pan of their car), no one died that night as a result of the drivig. Thank christ. 

But it shows me how difficult a situation like that (stopping a fleeing motorist) can be. 

When it comes to actions of Sam, first things first. . . . He should have just told the officer that he did not have his licence. Nevermind beating around the bush by stalling or attempting to deflect his traffic violation by questioning the officers obvious (and previously stated!) motives for pulling him over. Just tell the officer that you don’t have your licence. You are likley to pay a fine, maybe even be charged. But as always, those things should be considered before you set foot in the car (I rarly leave home without my wallet, which is why my licence stays in it). 

And most of all, you can not just arbitrarily DECIDE when you are done dealing with an officer. You can not just say “well, you have my name. See ya!” whilst locking the door and starting the engine. Even if home is a short distance away, stay put. Let the issues be resolved, specially in a case like this where the officer was quite reasonable up until the very end. 

First, you are sitting in what COULD be considered to be a dangorous weapon. Though its unlikely that Sam intended to run down (or otherwise harm) the officer, never assume that the officer(s) know that. Specially if you take all of this police abuse of the black community seriously . . . . A car is a WHOLE lot more dangerous than a toy gun. 

While I am a proponent of people knowing (and standing up for!) their civil rights, this does not mean that you have to approach EVERY police encounter with the assumption that they are harassing you due to racism.  Though it DOES happen, I can’t help but to think that at least the last 2 encounters I have seen were indeed racially biased, but from the perspective of the 2 black persons allegedly “targeted”. Again, anything is possible. But in both cases, I seen the victims (as it stands) doing more to shape the racial bias in both cases thean I seen actual signs of racial bias (on the part of the officers involved). 

This may seem cruel and insensitive, since both victims are now deceased. And I do apologize for this to any friends, family or acquaintances of the deceased that may happen across this post.  However, since both deaths are sure to be utilized in the political and ideological context of the #BlackLivesMatter protest, there needs to be full disclosure. Ideally, no one should be using death to forward anything (don’t get me wrong!). But since its happening anyway, all information should be available. 

All of that said however, Officer Ray Tensing is not without blame. Though the actions of Samuel DID provide grounds to take action to stop his flight, it was not a life or death situation. Samuel did not pull out a gun, knife or other weapon. And his flight did not put any other officers (or civilians) in danger of being run down. 

Though he had to apprehended (fleeing an officer IS a crime), deadly force was not necessary. 

This might be a good use for the taser. Maybe the firearm to, if it was not a kill shot. It could have even been advisable to let Sam proceed and follow (and call for backup). 

Another thing I don’t understand is why Officer Tensing attempted to lie about the situation (claiming in the report to be run over (his foot I assume), and later to be dragged). Yes, there is an obvious reason (cover his ass). But did he forget about the body cam? Words on a sheet of paper or spoken in an interview are one thing, but nothing is quite as weighty (in terms of evidence) than video. 

All in all, Samuel DuBose should not have died that day. He was indeed murdered. And its good to see the Ohio authorities recodnizing it as such. 

But alike the case of Sandy Bland, the blame is not entirely one directional. Had DuBose been more upfront, and most importantly, not attempted to preemptively flee this may never have happened. 

While it is unfortunate that it is to late for both Bland and Dubose, there is a lesson to be learned from this. Sometimes it is best to listen to the police. 

Now, AGAIN, this is dependant on context. If the officer busts into your home and attempts to apprehend you  after you have just got out of the shower (right in front of your kid, no less), then I don’t blame a person for resisting. Particularly if the officer is just using his status to throw his weight around. BE CAREFUL, but stand up for your rights.  

However, looking for rights violations where no apperent ones exist, is detrimental. 

People should know enough to NOT judge a movement by one or 2 instances of people exploiting it. But the less you give to feed such lazy mindsets, the better. 

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