Video released in police killing of Black man holding phone
Columbus, Ohio – Body camera footage released Wednesday shows Andre Hill, a 47-year-old Black man, emerging from a garage and holding up a cellphone in his left hand seconds before he is fatally shot by a Columbus police officer.
About six seconds pass between the time Hill is visible in the video and when the officer fires his weapon early Tuesday. There is no audio because the officer hadn’t activated the body camera; an automatic “look back” feature captured the shooting without audio.
Without audio, it’s unclear whether the officer, identified as Adam Coy, yelled any commands at Hill, whose right hand isn’t visible in the video. Authorities say no weapon was recovered from the scene. The city says Hill was visiting someone at the time.
Hill lay on the garage floor for several minutes without any officer on the scene coming to his aid. That violates policy requiring officers to help the injured, said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther on Wednesday, calling for Coy to be fired as a result.
Coy also violated departmental policies requiring his camera’s full video and audio functions to have been activated, Ginther said.
Columbus police values, including integrity, compassion and accountability, “were absent and not on display while Mr. Hill lay dying,” said Ginther, a Democrat.
After Coy activates the audio, he is heard using an expletive as he yells at Hill, now lying on the garage floor, to put his “hands off to the side! Hands out to the side now!”
A few seconds later, Coy yells at Hill, “Roll to your stomach now,” and then: “Get your hand up from underneath you, now!”
Coy then asks a dispatcher, “We got a medic coming” and yells, “Don’t move, dude!” to Hill as he lies on his side groaning.
Hill died less than an hour later at a hospital.
Ginther and Police Chief Thomas Quinlan have expressed anger that Coy did not activate his body camera beforehand. The 60-second look-back feature captured the shooting.
Officers must activate their body cameras as soon as they are dispatched to a major incident such as a shooting, robbery or burglary, under departmental policy.
Beyond that, officers must turn the cameras on “at the start of an enforcement action or at the first reasonable opportunity to do so,” according to the policy.
Although Coy was dispatched on a nonemergency call, the call became an enforcement action when the officer interacted with Hill because that was separate from the original call, said police department spokesperson Sgt. James Fuqua.
“Therefore, the camera by policy should have been activated,” he said.
Coy, a 17-year member of the force, was relieved of duty, ordered to turn in his gun and badge, and stripped of police powers pending the outcome of investigations. By union contract, the officer will still be paid.
Relieving an officer of duty is common in Columbus after a shooting.
“In this case, the chief of police directly observed what he believes to be potential critical misconduct and is taking an intervening action of relief of duty until a disciplinary investigation can be completed,” said Glenn McEntyre, a spokesperson for the city Department of Public Safety, which oversees the police.
Ned Pettus Jr., the city public safety director, on Wednesday promised “a fair, impartial hearing” for Coy.
Officers responded to a neighbor’s nonemergency call at 1:26 a.m. about a car in front of his house that had been running, then shut off, then turned back on, according to a copy of the call released Wednesday. Ginther said it’s unclear if that car had anything to do with Hill.
“I figure if it’s company for the neighbors, they wouldn’t be out there running it for that long period of time,” the man tells the police dispatcher.
“I mean, I’d go out there, but I don’t want to get in trouble. I don’t have a gun,” he said, laughing. “My wife’s really concerned about it.”
A man who answered the phone at the caller’s house Wednesday wouldn’t identify himself and refused to take a message.
Because the call was not an emergency, the cruiser dash cam wasn’t activated.
Republican Attorney General Dave Yost on Wednesday promised a “complete, independent and expert investigation” of the shooting. The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which falls under the attorney general’s office, conducts probes of Columbus police shootings under an arrangement with the city.
“What we have now is an incomplete record. We must allow the record to be completed and the evidence to be gathered,” Yost said. “Only the truth – the whole truth and nothing else – will result in justice.”
The U.S. attorney’s office in Columbus has agreed to review the case for possible federal civil rights violations once the state completes its investigation.
A review of Coy’s personnel file shows more than three dozen complaints have been filed against him since he joined the department in January 2002, mostly for rude or abusive language with a dozen for use of force. No details about the allegations are contained in the sparse summaries the city provided from the department’s internal affairs bureau. All but a few were marked “unfounded” or “not sustained.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported the city paid $45,000 to a man in 2012 after a dashcam video showed Coy banging the man’s head against the hood of a car during a drunken driving arrest. Coy was suspended for 160 hours, the newspaper reported.
Coy’s personnel file also shows several commendations and two dozen compliments from people he encountered while on duty.
Gillispie reported from Cleveland.