US policeman fired over fatal shooting of Andre Hill

Protesters gather outside the home where Andre Hill was killed in Columbus, Ohio [Megan Jelinger/Reuters]
Protesters gather outside the home where Andre Hill was killed in Columbus, Ohio [Megan Jelinger/Reuters]

A white Ohio police officer in the United States was fired on Monday after bodycam footage showed him fatally shooting 47-year-old Andre Hill, a Black man who was holding a cellphone and refusing to administer first aid for several minutes.

Columbus police officer Adam Coy was fired hours after a hearing was held to determine his employment, Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr said in a statement. “The actions of Adam Coy do not live up to the oath of a Columbus Police officer, or the standards we, and the community, demand of our officers,” the statement read. “The shooting of Andre Hill is a tragedy for all who loved him in addition to the community and our Division of Police.” Coy, a 17-year member of the force remains under criminal investigation for last week’s shooting, he was relieved of duty, ordered to turn in his gun and badge, and stripped of police powers last week.

The decision came after Pettus concluded a hearing to determine whether the actions taken by Coy in the moments before and after the fatal shooting of Hill on Tuesday were justified. The public safety director upheld the recommendation of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan, who made a video statement Christmas Eve, saying he had seen enough to recommend Coy be terminated. Quinlan expedited the investigation and bypassed procedure to file two departmental charges alleging critical misconduct against Coy in the death of Hill.

“This is what accountability looks like. The evidence provided solid rationale for termination,” Quinlan said after Coy’s termination on Monday afternoon. “Mr Coy will now have to answer to the state investigators for the death of Andre Hill.” Members of the local Fraternal Order of Police attended the hearing on behalf of Coy, who was not in attendance, according to a statement from Pettus’ office. “Officer Coy was given the opportunity today to come and participate,” Brian Steel, vice president of the police union, told reporters on Monday. He elected not to participate. I do not know why, I would have liked to have him here, but it’s his decision.”

Coy and another officer responded to a neighbour’s non-emergency call after 1am (06:00 GMT) on Tuesday, December 22, about a car in front of his house in the city’s northwest side that had been running, then shut off, then turned back on, according to a copy of the call released on Wednesday. Mayor Andrew Ginther said it remains unclear if that car had anything to do with Hill. Police bodycam footage showed Hill emerging from a garage and holding up a cellphone in his left hand seconds before he was fatally shot by Coy. There is no audio because the officer had not activated the body camera; an automatic “look back” feature captured the shooting without audio.

An investigation is also being conducted into the other officers who responded to the call that ended in Hill being shot, who Quinlan said also appear to have either failed to activate their body cameras or to render Hill aid. Officers must activate their body cameras as soon as they are dispatched to a crucial incident such as a shooting, robbery or burglary, under departmental policy. Quinlan said any others who violated department protocols will be held accountable. Although Coy was dispatched on a non-emergency 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 Sergeant James Fuqua.

In addition to an internal police investigation, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost was appointed a special prosecutor in the death of Hill on Thursday, there is also an investigation under the state’s criminal investigations unit, under Yost, with assistance from the US attorney’s office and the FBI’s Civil Rights Division.

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