Columbus Police Chief: 'Little Evidence' Of Compassion After Andre Hill Shooting
Additional body camera footage from the shooting of Andre Hill shows Columbus Police officers handcuffing an unresponsive Hill and then inspecting the garage, searching for shell casings, interviewing residents or simply standing nearby rather than offer first aid.
The new footage released Thursday shows the events of December 22 from the perspectives of more than a dozen officers who arrived after officer Adam Coy fatally shot Hill. Coy was fired from the department earlier this week, and is under investigation by state and federal authorities.
One officer, Benajmin Banford, arrives and assists with handcuffing Hill, who was laying on the garage floor after being shot. Banford stands next to the dying 47-year-old man for seven minutes until another officer approaches and asks, “Anybody doing anything for him?”
“Negative, sir,” Banford responds. “We’ve contacted medics.”
After a brief pause, that second officer asks if Banford has gloves on, and when Banford says yes, orders him to begin pumping Hill’s chest.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, national civil rights lawyer Ben Crump and local attorney Michael Wright gathered with Hill’s family to talk about the newly-released footage.
Fighting through tears, Hill’s daughter Karrissa Hill said she doesn’t feel safe in Columbus. “You can’t even call 911,” she said. “Non-emergency, you might get killed, you might get somebody else killed, and it’s just disgusting how they did my dad.”
Coy and another officer, Amy Detweiler, arrived at Oberlin Drive in northwest Columbus early on the morning of December 22 in response to a non-emergency call from a resident. The caller reported a man sitting inside a car for a prolonged amount of time, turning it on and off. Coy and Detweiler encountered Hill inside the garage of a neighbor, who told officers at the scene that she had invited Hill over.
Coy's body camera video shows that he fired shots just seconds after Hill turned around with a cell phone in his hand. Because Coy and Detweiler did not activate their cameras until after Hill was shot, there is no audio of their interaction with Hill.
Detweiler, who has been placed on administrative, non-patrol duty as the investigations play out, later told Columbus Police investigators that she did not perceive Hill as a threat.
On Detweiler's body camera a woman runs out of the house shortly after Coy opened fire. The woman could be heard faintly on Coy's footage, but on this tape she can be heard clearly, explaining why Hill was visiting.
"He was bringing me christmas money!" she yells at the officers. "He didn't do anything!"
Detweiler tells the woman to stay inside.
On Officer Brandon Caldwell's tape, police can be heard interviewing the woman and a man inside the house.
"I was in bed sleeping, dude. There ain't nobody in this house," the man says. "He came to me to give her Christmas money."
"And then when the cop pulled up on him," the woman adds, "I told him, I said go ahead and walk up, because I wasn't ready."
Karissa Hill says she's shaken that her last image of her father is him lying on the ground, and that so many officers stood idly by.
“Not one of them helped my dad, but instead the first time they touch him is to put handcuffs on him," she said. "It’s very disgusting."
In a video statement released shortly after the footage became public, Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan committed to holding officers accountable and improving the division moving forward.
“One of the core values of the Columbus Division of Police is compassion. And the body-worn camera video released today shows little evidence of that,” Quinlan said. “Let me repeat what I said last week: Andre Hill should be alive today. A Columbus Police Officer is responsible for his death. I cannot defend it. I cannot make it right, but I will do what is in my power.”
Quinlan explained he’s already taken steps to tighten department policy when it comes to turning on body cameras and providing first aid, although he did not specify what those changes were. He added that the department is investigating other officers at the scene for their failures to activate body cameras and provide aid, but that will take longer to conclude because of the number of officers and evidence involved.
"I don't yet have those answers for you, but I will give you my word, I will," Quinlan said.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said he was "horrified" by the amount of time that passed before officers aided Hill.
"I have directed Chief Quinlan to investigate the events of Dec. 22 completely and thoroughly, and to hold all officers who failed to uphold Division standards accountable," Ginther tweeted.
Hill's family, however, is skeptical. Wright pointed out that, in a 2008 evaluation of Coy, Quinlan wrote that "if sustained improvements are not fully realized, a decision whether officer Coy is salvageable must follow.” The lawyer said Coy had accumulated dozens of pages of civilian complaints going back to his hiring, and that the division is culpable for Hill's killing.
Hill's family has called for murder charges against Coy and the firing of Detweiler and other officers who responded.
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