Columbus Police Release Body Camera Footage of Officer Killing Andre Hill
Body camera footage shows a Columbus Police officer fatally shooting 47-year-old Andre Maurice Hill less than 10 seconds after finding him in a garage early Tuesday morning.
The footage, released by the department Wednesday, also reveals that five and a half minutes passed after Hill's shooting before an officer attempts to administer first aid.
Police identified Adam Coy, a white man and 19-year veteran of the department, as the officer who shot Hill, who is Black.
Coy was placed on paid administrative leave Tuesday. At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Andrew Ginther said he was "outraged" by the shooting and called for Coy's immediate termination.
"I am also very disturbed about what I don't see next in the body-worn camera footage," Ginther said. "From what we can see, none of the officers initially at the scene provide medical assistance to Mr. Hill. No compression on the wounds to stop the bleeding. No attempts at CPR. Not even a hand on the shoulder and an encouraging word that medic were in route."
Police say the officers dispatched to the Cranbrook neighborhood around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, responding to a non-emergency call about a man sitting inside a car repeatedly turning it on and off.
Footage from Coy's body camera shows officers walking up to an open garage and shining their flashlights on Hill, who turns around and holds up his cell phone up. His right hand appears to be inside his jacket pocket.
With the light from his cell phone facing towards the officers, Hill takes several steps toward Coy, who quickly raises his gun and shoots Hill.
Because Coy did not activate his camera until after the shooting, there is no audio for the first minute of the footage – Columbus Police body cameras feature a "look back" function that offers video but no sound of the 60 seconds before activation.
Content warning: The below video contains images of a fatal shooting.
In the video, Hill remains motionless on the garage floor as Coy retreats back. "Put your f---ing hands out to the side. Hands out to the side now," Coy shouts in the video, breathing heavily. "Roll to your stomach now."
Coy asks another officer if medics are coming, walks up to Hill and rolls him over onto his back. Coy then paces around the driveway for several minutes. It's not until more than six minutes into the video when another officer, who had just arriveed on the scene, approaches Hill and begins to administer first aid.
The official Columbus Police report of the shooting, also released Wednesday, is brief and absent of most details: "Officer discharged his firearm upon confronting Mr. Hill. Mr. Hill did not survive his injuries."
Police also there is no dash cam footage of the incident, either, because officers were responding to a non-emergency call. Ginther said that Hill was known by the residents of the home, and was not an intrudcer but rather an expected guest.
"There was no call for service," Ginther said. "There was no eminent threat."
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into Hill's death. U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers said his office will also review if any federal civil rights laws were violated.
"The mayor requested that the U.S. Attorney’s Office review the investigation for possible federal civil rights violations, and after consulting with Ohio Attorney General Yost, I agreed that my office will review the case as requested once BCI’s investigation is complete," DeVillers said in a statement Wednesday. "This office will then consult with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office on how to proceed at the conclusion of our review.”
Columbus City Council president Shannon Hardin echoed the mayor in a statement Wednesday, saying that Coy's body camera showed the "unjustified killing of Andre Hill."
"I call for the immediate arrest of Adam Coy," Hardin tweeted. "Mr. Hill's family deserves justice."
That is easier said than done, though, as the discipline process is dictated by the city's contract with the police union. Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, who said he is the sole authority with the power to hire or fire officers, says all officers are guaranteed due process.
Officers must first be notified of any charges against them, before receiving a hearing with the FOP, their attorneys and the Public Safety Director. After that hearing, the chief of police will issue a recommendation for discipline that Pettus can accept or change.
"Any personal emotions have to be set aside," Pettus says, adding that the process will begin promptly.
Ginther did not respond to a question about consequences for other officers who were on the scene and failed to provide aid to Hill, saying that any officer determined to not have followed departmental policy will be disciplined.
Columbus Police records released Wednesday show that Coy had received dozens of complaints about his work over his two decades of employment.
In a 69-page document of civilian allegations and internal investigations, Coy is accused of mishandling prisoners, using rude language and using inappropriate force, with nine complaints filed in 2003 alone. The department deemed most of these complaints "unfounded."
In October 2018, Coy received a special commendation for the arrest of a suspect on aggravated robbery charges, following a string of crimes against Ohio State University students. He also won a distinguished service medal in January 2018, for an incident where he lunged at a suspect who spilled a pool of lighter fluid at a gas station with the intention of setting it on fire.
A month of shootings
Hill's death came just three weeks after a separate law enforcement shooting of a Black man in Columbus, which sparked a federal civil rights investigation of its own.
DeVillers is currently heading a joint criminal-civil rights probe into the December 4 killing of Casey Goodson Jr. by Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade, who is white.
“You know, every time we think we have an open window where we can begin to have healing and change in the community and begin to build trust, and now we’re back to ground zero again because of two back-to-back shootings of Black men," Stephanie Hightower, president of the Columbus Urban League, told WOSU on Wednesday.
Authorities say Meade encountered Goodson while conducting a search for an unrelated suspect in the Northland neighborhood, and went to confront Goodson – who was neither the person officers were looking for, nor the subject of any investigation. Meade then fatally shot Goodson at his home, with a preliminary report from the county coroner finding that Goodson likely died from multiple gunshot wounds to the torso.
Still, there are many uncertainties surrounding Goodson's shooting, which prompted days of protests in downtown Columbus. Similar to Tuesday's incident, a lack of recorded evidence presents a challenge – unlike Columbus Police officers, Franklin County Sheriff's deputies don't wear body cameras, so there is no audio or video of the encounter between Meade and Goodson.
A lawyer for Meade said that Goodson pointed a gun at the deputy and refused commands to stand down, but that claim cannot be verified due to the absence of recordings or witnesses. Goodson's family disputes the account given by authorities, including whether Goodson had a gun on him at all, and called for Meade to be fired and charged with murder.
Authorities have yet to announce state or federal charges against Meade, who remains on administrative leave.
Reform in motion
The two shootings occurred during a critical juncture for police reforms in Columbus.
“All of the actions that you have seen this year basically illuminates what Black folks have always been dealing with, and what we have always thought, is that law enforcement, they’re not here to protect and serve our community, they’re here to police us, and we’ve got to change that narrative," Hightower said.
Starting next month, prosecutions of police misconduct in Columbus will fall to a new person: incoming Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack, a Democrat who ousted longtime Republican Ron O'Brien in November. For decades, O'Brien was a target of criticism from racial justice advocates in Columbus – during his 24-year tenure, no white Columbus Police officer was ever indicted for shooting a civilian.
Over the summer, following weeks of racial justice protests, Ginther issued an executive order requiring all cases of fatal-use-of-force by police to be referred to the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation. That agency declined to take up the Goodson shooting, however, because city officials waited three days after the incident to request their involvement.
Columbus voters in November also approved a city charter amendment to create a Civilian Review Board and Inspector General, which will conduct independent investigations into police misconduct and policies. The city is currently accepting applicants for the review board, which it hopes to seat early next year.
Even then, however, the board will be limited in its scope: Neither it nor the Inspector General will have jurisdiction over the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, and significant details about its powers still must be decided with the local police union, whose contract expired this year.
So far, negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police have proven rocky, with union leaders criticizing Ginther for asking voters to create the Civilian Review Board. In 2017, the FOP unanimously approved a vote of "no confidence" in Ginther, Public Safety Director Ned Pettus and now-City Attorney Zach Klein.
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