Ray Tensing was not dragged by the car Sam DuBose was driving before the former UC police officer shot and killed DuBose, a forensic video analyst testified during Tensing’s trial Thursday.
Tensing is accused of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the death of DuBose, an unarmed motorist Tensing shot during a traffic stop in July 2015.
Grant Fredericks of Forensic Video Solutions showed the jury a frame-by-frame analysis of video of the shooting captured by Tensing’s body camera.
Tensing’s defense is that he was being dragged by the car and in fear of his life when he fired the fatal shot. Prosecutors say that the shooting was unwarranted and that Tensing was not dragged.
Based on Fredericks’ analysis, milliseconds could determine Tensing’s fate.
The jury watched as Fredericks pointed to landmarks to support his view that DuBose’s car barely moved, if at all, before Tensing pulled the trigger.
“We can see that the SUV in the driveway, the background, the position of the fence is as it was a few seconds earlier.” Fredericks testified. “So the background hasn’t changed. That means the vehicle hasn’t moved forward.”
At this point, the body cam footage showed what was happening one second and 875 milliseconds before DuBose was killed.
Fredericks said that the officer was not dragged, and that the car moved only one or two feet and only in the eight tenths of a second before Tensing fired the shot.
Just a fraction before DuBose died, Fredericks showed another video frame.
“You see the SUV still in the background,” Fredericks told assistant prosecutor Mark Piepmeier. “So the forward motion of the car would have been very short, very small.”
During cross-examination, Tensing’s attorney, Stew Mathews, seized on the words ’forward motion,’ trying to convince the jury that any motion of DuBose’s car put his client’s life on the line.
“You would agree with me that ultimately the jury has to make up their own minds about what this video shows,” Mathews asked Fredericks.
“Is that a fair statement on my part?” Mathews asked.
Fredericks said, “I agree with that. Yes.”
After court, Mathews said that’s a big deal for his client.
“He took 45 minutes to present something that happened in a few seconds,” Mathews said. “One thing I took away from it was that the car was in motion when the shot was fired, which is our (argument) throughout.”
Sam DuBose’s sister disagrees and says Mathews is just trying to confuse the jury.
“I think he tried to discredit what they had just seen,” Terina Allen said. “I think any reasonable person saw what they saw in the video, and it was very much made clear with that frame-by-frame. I really am thankful for that.”
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said that Thursday’s testimony was a win for the state.
“The camera doesn’t lie,” Deters said. “And we brought in maybe the best video expert in the country and he was stunningly good on the witness stand.”