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Government & Politics

Columbus Police Chief Recommends Firing of Officer Adam Coy

an image from police body camera
Columbus Police
Body camera footage from Columbus Police officer Adam Coy just after the fatal shooting of Andre Maurice Hill on Dec. 22, 2020.

Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan is officially recommending that officer Adam Coy be terminated for fatally shooting Andre Hill, failing to activate his body camera and neglecting to administer first aid.

"I have filed two departmental charges alleging critical misconduct against officer Coy," Quinlan wrote in a statement Thursday. "After an expedited investigation I have sustained those charges. Based on these findings, I am recomemmending discipline of termination."

Coy was relieved of duty on Tuesday afternoon, turning in his badge and gun. On Wednesday, Mayor Andrew Ginther held a press conference urging Coy's firing, calling his actions a "stunning disregard for life."

The sole power to fire a Columbus officer lies with Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, who will hold a hearing Monday before ruling on Quinlan's recommendation. Quinlan noted that he was bypassing the normal process by recommending discipline before the hearing took place.

"Like all of you, I witnessed his critical misconduct firsthand via his body-worn camera," Quinlan writes. "I have seen everything I need to see to reach the conclusion that Officer Coy must be terminated, immediately. Some may call this a rush to judgement. It is not." 

Just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 22, Coy shot and killed 47-year-old Andre Hill less than 10 seconds after encountering him inside an Oberlin Drive garage. Coy is white, and Hill is Black.

Coy and another officer were responding to a non-emergency call about a man sitting for a prolonged time inside a car, but it's not clear Hill was the man being referred to. Ginther said the officers encountered Hill at a house where he was an "expected guest," not an intruder.

Coy and the other responding officer did not activate their body-worn cameras until after Coy shot Hill, who had turned towards the officers and held up his cellphone. Although there is footage of the shooting itself, there is no audio until 60 seconds into the video.

Quinlan says the early morning run constituted a call for service, and department policy required the officers turn their body cameras on before exiting their vehicle.

After shooting Hill, both officers failed to administer first aid for more than 5 minutes. Hill was then transported to Riverside Hospital, just a few blocks away, where he died.

The statement goes on to detail two investigations that are underway—the first into Coy's use of deadly force, failure to activity his body camera and failure to give aid to Hill. The second investigation pertains to other officers involved in this incident, who either failed to turn on their cameras or failed to administer aid.

On Wednesday, Pettus said he would conduct a "clear, impartial hearing." WOSU has reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police for a statement.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is handling the criminal investigation into Hill's death. On Thursday, outgoing Franklin County Prosecutor announced that Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, who oversees the BCI, was appointed as a special prosecutor for the case.

Following the BCI investigation, U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers will conduct a review of any federal civil rights laws that may have been violated.

"Andre Hill should be with his family this holiday," Quinlan writes. "I ask this community to wrap their arms around his family, and join me in praying for their comfort."
Copyright 2020 WOSU 89.7 NPR News.