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Government & Politics

Columbus Police Officer Relieved of Duty After Fatally Shooting Black Man

a photo of a Columbus police car
David Holm
/
WOSU
A Columbus police officer shot and killed a Black man early Tuesday morning. The mayor says the officer did not turn on his body-worn camera until after the shooting.

Mayor Andrew Ginther says a Columbus Police officer has been relieved of duty for failing to activate his body camera before fatally shooting a Black man early Tuesday morning.

The incident happened on Oberlin Drive in the Cranbrook neighborhood around 1:30 a.m., following complaints of a suspicious vehicle in the area. According to a Columbus Police statement, a resident reported a man sitting in an SUV "for an extended period," turning it on and off.

Officers arrived on the scene and saw a man inside a garage. Based on a review of body camera footage, police say the man "walked toward the officer with a cell phone in his left hand. His right hand was not visible."

Police say the officer then shot the man, and the footage "also documents a delay in rendering of first-aid." The 47-year-old was transported to Riverside Hospital, where he died. 

“While it is very early in the investigation, there is one fact that disturbs me greatly," Mayor Andrew Ginther said in a press conference Tuesday. "The officer involved did not turn on their body-worn camera until after the shooting.”

Although the city's body cameras offer a 60-second lookback, meaning there is video of the shooting, there is no audio of the officer's interaction with the victim. Neither the victim nor the officer relieved of duty have been identified yet.

Ginther says the available footage will be released within 24 hours. There is also no dash camera footage from inside the police cruiser, because officers were responding to a non-emergency call.

"The city works hard to provide police with the tools officers need to protect themselves and the public," Ginther says. "So let me be clear: If you’re not going to turn on your body-worn camera, you can not protect and serve the people of Columbus. I have asked Chief Quinlan to remove the officer from duty and turn in his badge and gun.”

Mayor Ginther, Safety Director Pettus to Discuss Police-Involved Shooting

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which has been handling investigations of most police shooting cases in Columbus, confirmed it was called to look into the shooting.

Ginther said he is committed to a transparent investigation, and asked U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers to review if any federal civil rights laws were violated.

Ginther added that no weapon was recovered at the scene, and the department said no officers were injured in the incident. Police say the officer will not return until he has been cleared for duty by an independent psychologist.

This is the second fatal shooting by a Columbus-area law enforcement officer within the last month where recordings were unavailable – as well as the second shooting to involve a federal civil rights probe.

Just weeks ago, a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy shot and killed 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. in Columbus, but because deputies were not equipped with body cameras at the time, there are neither recordings nor witnesses of the shooting.

BCI declined to be involved in the Goodson investigation because local authorities waited several days after Goodson’s death to request their help.

"We are still raw from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and less than three weeks ago, Casey Goodson Jr.," Ginther said. "Early this morning, we learned of the killing of another African-American at the hands of law enforcement."

The U.S. Attorney's Office is also leading a federal civil rights investigation into Goodson's death.

This story will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News.