Two days after a police officer in Columbus, Ohio, shot and killed a black man seconds after meeting him, the mayor and chief of police decided to fire the officer.
Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Chief Thomas Quinlan said in statements Thursday that Constable Adam Coy, a 19-year-old veteran, should be fired for not immediately turning on his body camera and helping Andre Maurice Hill , which he shot early Tuesday.
“Enough is enough,” Ginther said in a brief video statement, adding, “As a community, we need to come together and empower people.”
Later, Chief Quinlan said in a video statement, “I have seen everything I need to see to come to the conclusion that Constable Coy should be terminated immediately.” He also referred to Constable Coy’s “unreasonable use of lethal force”.
Chief Quinlan wrote in his report on the episode: “The known facts do not establish that this use of lethal force was objectively reasonable.”
The recommendation has been sent to Ned Pettus Jr., Columbus’ director of public safety, who will definitely rule on whether to fire the officer, Chief Quinlan said. Mr Pettus, appointed by Mr Ginther, has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Monday morning, according to the chief.
In Chief Quinlan’s video statement, he called the shooting of Mr. Hill, 47, “preventable violence, senseless violence”. He added: “It shouldn’t have happened and it never should have.”
It was the second fatal shooting of a black man by a law enforcement officer in Columbus in three weeks. “Our community is exhausted,” Ginther said at a press conference Tuesday.
The last murderous encounter began at around 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday when two police officers responded to a call from a person concerned about an SUV parked in a residential area.
On a recording of the call, which has been made public, a man told a police dispatcher that the vehicle had been there for about 30 minutes and that the car had been on the road for much of that time.
Constable Coy was one of the officers who answered the call. He only activated his body camera after firing his gun, a violation of policy, but the department’s body cameras come with a feature that records the 60 seconds before they are turned on. When Agent Coy turned on his camera, the playback feature captured the shot.
This video, which was released Wednesday, shows Agent Coy approaching a garage with another agent, shining a flashlight inside. A vehicle and Mr. Hill are in the garage. Mr. Hill walks slowly towards the officers, holding a cell phone in his left hand. Her right hand is not visible in the footage, which did not capture the audio of any verbal exchange prior to filming.
Within seconds, Constable Coy drew his gun and opened fire. Mr. Hill fell to the ground, then the audio recording began. Constable Coy, still pointing his gun, ordered Mr. Hill to put his hands to the side and roll onto his stomach. “Don’t move, man,” Constable Coy said, tapping a moan from Mr. Hill. “Roll up, man.”
It is not known exactly how long it took for police to provide first aid to Mr Hill, who died in hospital shortly after.
Chief Quinlan said he was able to speed up the normal investigative process using these images. “Like all of you, I witnessed his critical misconduct firsthand via his body-worn camera,” the chief said.
Efforts to reach Agent Coy by phone Thursday evening were unsuccessful.
In addition to the investigation into Constable Coy, Chief Quinlan said a second ministerial investigation is underway to determine whether “additional agents” have activated their body cameras or assisted Mr. Hill.
In Chief Quinlan’s written recommendations to Mr. Pettus, the Chief said the police dispatcher “had not provided Constable Coy with any indication that there was criminal activity or current danger in the neighborhood.” The radio simply advised checking the area for a suspicious vehicle. “
The Ohio Criminal Investigations Bureau is also investigating whether Constable Coy’s shooting at Mr Hill violated state law, the chief said.
The shooting came three weeks after a county sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Casey Goodson, Jr., 23, at the entrance to her home in Columbus. This shooting on December 4 was not filmed but sparked a series of protests against police brutality.
According to Southern Ohio District Marshal Peter Tobin, fleeing task force officers saw Mr. Goodson waving a gun in his car. Jason Meade, the Sheriff’s Deputy, pursued and confronted Mr Goodson, who was returning home with sandwiches after a dentist appointment and was not the target of the search.
Counsel for the deputy said Mr. Goodson pointed a gun at the officer. An attorney for Mr Goodson’s family said the only things in his hands were a coronavirus mask and Subway sandwiches.
Mr. Goodson had a license to carry a firearm. Columbus Police, who are investigating the murder, said they recovered a gun from the scene but did not say where.
Deputy Meade was put on administrative leave after the shooting, which is being investigated by the Columbus Police, the FBI and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Will wright contribution to reports. Sheelagh McNeill provided research.