Columbus Officials Call For Officer’s Firing, Arrest Over Killing Of Andre Hill
Courtesy of Ideastream
By Nick Evans
December 24, 2020
On Wednesday morning, Mayor Andrew Ginther attended the funeral of Casey Goodson Jr., a Black man killed by a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy less than three weeks ago. Hours later, the mayor lamented that the city is yet again mourning a Black man killed by a law enforcement officer.
At a press conference, Ginther called for the immediate termination of Columbus Police officer Adam Coy, a white man, who shot and killed Andre Hill early Tuesday morning. Body camera footage released Wednesday shows Coy pulling the trigger within seconds of encountering Hill at a neighbor’s garage, and then Coy and other officers at the scene failing to render aid for at least five minutes.
“A final goodbye to Casey Goodson this morning, and now we mourn the death of Andre Hill this afternoon,” Ginther said. “Enough is enough. This community is exhausted. The African American community is fearful, concerned, outraged.”
The incident early Tuesday morning was a non-emergency call from a resident concerned about a suspicious vehicle. Hill was an expected guest at the Oberlin Drive home where he encountered police, Ginther said. It’s not even clear that Hill was the person who prompted the call.
Body camera footage shows officers exiting their vehicles, and approaching an open garage door. Coy shines a flashlight inside and Hill walks out, one hand holding up a cell phone. His other hand is not visible, but Hill does not appear threatening as he walks toward the officer. In less than five seconds, Coy fires, and Hill falls to the garage floor, motionless.
Then the sound kicks in.
Breathing heavily, Coy shouts, “hands out to the side now!” to an unresponsive Hill.
Coy and the other officer who responded to the call had not initially turned on their body cameras. So the video we see comes from a 60-second “look back,” that kicks in once an officer begins recording, but there’s no audio of the moments before the gunshots.
“That was stunning enough,” Ginther said during Wednesday’s press conference. “But then to see him lying in the driveway, minute, after minute, after minute, after minute.”
On the ground, Hill can be heard groaning and breathing heavily. Coy asks a fellow officer if a medic is coming, but doesn’t administer first aid and walks away. That other officer strings police caution tape to secure the scene.
Five and a half minutes pass before two other responding officers approach Hill. He was later pronounced dead at Riverside Hospital, just blocks away from the scene.
“That is a stunning disregard for life,” Ginther said.
Ginther asked Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan to relieve Coy of duty on Tuesday, but the next day, after seeing the body camera footage, Ginther called for the officer’s immediate termination. He insisted he’s not prejudging whether Coy was justified or not in his use of force, but he argued failing to properly activate his camera and then failing to render aid are grounds for Coy’s dismissal.
In a statement, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin went further, saying Hill’s killing was “unjustified,” and called for Coy’s arrest.
Other Council members weighed in as well. “While I appreciate the immediate action taken to relieve Officer Adam Coy of his duties and the call for an independent investigation, this is simply not enough,” tweeted Shayla Favor. “I call today for his immediate termination and arrest.”
“There must be no place in our Columbus Division of Police for those that view members of the community as a threat simply because of their skin color,” tweeted Rob Dorans.
The Columbus Urban League’s Stephanie Hightower is in disbelief. She says one of her organization’s primary goals is to build trust between law enforcement and the African American community.
“You know, every time we think we have an open window when we can begin to have healing and change in the community and being to build trust, and now we’re back to ground zero because of two back-to-back shootings of Black men,” Hightower says.
Hightower says she’s running out of things to tell her son.
“I don’t even know how to say to my son, ‘I need you to trust the police’ anymore because I can’t, in good faith and conscience. I mean, I don’t know what to tell him, I just don’t,” Hightower says.
Coy has been relieved of duty, turning in his gun and badge. Under the terms of the police union contract, he will be paid during the disciplinary inquiry.
After Coy is served with the internal charges against him, he’ll have a hearing before Public Safety Director Ned Pettus. Quinlan will make a disciplinary recommendation, but the final call is in Pettus’ hands.
Separately, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is reviewing Coy’s use of force, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is looking into the case for potential civil rights violations.
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