The destiny of a white Columbus police officer who fatally shot a Black man final week hangs in the balance after a disciplinary hearing Monday that may result in his termination.
Columbus Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. concluded a hearing to decide if the actions taken by Officer Adam Coy in the moments before and after the fatal shooting of Andre Hill on Tuesday were justified.
Members of the police union representing Columbus officers attended the hearing on behalf of Coy, who used to be not in attendance, according to a remark from Pettus’ office.
The hearing comes after Police Chief Thomas Quinlan made a video remark Christmas Eve, saying he had seen enough to recommend Coy be terminated.
Quinlan expedited the investigation and bypassed procedure to dossier two departmental charges alleging critical misconduct against Coy in the death of Hill.
“We have an officer who violated his oath to conform with the rules and policies of the Columbus Division of Police,” he said. “And the consequences of that violation are so great, it requires instant action. This violation cost an blameless man his life.”
Coy and another officer responded to a neighbor’s nonemergency call after 1 am Tuesday approximately 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 Wednesday.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said it remains unclear whether 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 used to be fatally shot by Coy. There’s no audio because the officer hadn’t activated the body camera; an automatic “look back” feature captured the shooting without audio.
An investigation could also be being conducted into the other officers who responded to the call that ended in Hill being shot, who Quinlan said also seem to have either failed to activate their body cameras or to render Hill aid. He said any others who violated branch protocols will be held accountable.
Officers should activate their body cameras as soon as they’re dispatched to a major incident such as a shooting, robbery or housebreaking, under departmental policy. Even if Coy used to be dispatched on a nonemergency call, the call became an enforcement action when the officer interacted with Hill because that used to be separate from the original call, said police branch spokesperson Sgt. James Fuqua.
Along with an internal police investigation, Attorney General Dave Yost used to be appointed a special prosecutor in the death of Hill on Thursday.
“We will be able to do our duty based on the facts and the law,” Yost said in a tweet. “Regardless of the outcome, someone will be angry—but the decision will be objective.”
There could also be an investigation under the state’s crook investigations unit, under Yost, with the aid of the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI’s Civil Rights Division.
So far as Coy’s employment, the city’s public safety director will now review all evidence and documentation submitted by the police chief and rule on his recommendation for Coy to be fired immediately.
Coy, a 17-year member of the force, has been relieved of duty, ordered to turn in his gun and badge, and stripped of police powers pending the outcome of investigations.
By union contract, Coy will still be paid.
The killing of Hill by the hands of Columbus police follows the fatal shooting of Casey Goodson Jr. on Dec. 4 by a white Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy. The two back-to-back shootings have resulted in an outpour of criticism from advocates and the Black community in Columbus for wider and more comprehensive police reform.