Ohio cop fired in fatal shooting; bodycam video released
The video shows visuals but not audio in the moments before the shooting
By Jennifer Smola
The Columbus Dispatch
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black man last week was fired Monday by the city's public safety director, who said in a written statement that "known facts do not establish that this use of deadly force was objectively reasonable."
Director Ned Pettus' decision was issue Monday evening, within hours of a morning disciplinary hearing that the officer, Adam Coy, declined to attend.
In issuing the decision, Pettus upheld Police Chief Thomas Quinlan’s recommendation to terminate Coy.
Pettus laid out three specifications in his decision to dismiss the officer, which included violating the division's use-of-force policy, failing to render aid to Hill after the shooting and failure to activate his body camera while on the call for service.
"Prior to shooting Mr. Hill, (Coy) did not attempt to use trained techniques to de-escalate the situation," according to one of the specifications.
"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," Pettus said in a statement issued with the decision.
Quinlan also issued a statement.
"When I became chief, I changed our core values to include accountability," he wrote. "This is what accountability looks like. The evidence provided solid rationale for termination. Mr. Coy will now have to answer to the state investigators for the death of Andre Hill."
Mayor Andrew J. Ginther released a statement saying he applauded the safety director and police chief "for their swift action in firing Mr. Coy. ... "Now we wait on the investigation of (the Ohio Bureau of Investigation), a presentation of evidence to a grand jury and potential federal charges from the U.S. Department of Justice. We expect transparency, accountability and justice. The family and the entire community deserve it."
Brian Steel, Vice President of FOP Capital City Lodge 9, had confirmed Coy's termination to The Columbus Dispatch earlier in the afternoon.
Also Monday, a preliminary report from the Franklin County Coroner's Office determined Andre Hill's death to be caused by multiple gunshot wounds, the coroner's office said in a media release. A full autopsy report is expected in 12 to 14 weeks.
The death was classified as a homicide, meaning it was caused by another person.
The morning hearing was for Pettus to hear evidence supporting Coy's termination as well as evidence in defense of the officer.
Three members of the Fraternal Order of Police attended the hearing on Coy's behalf.
The public safety director's office released a 10-page transcript of the hearing, along with the director's decision.
The administrative case against Coy was presented by police Lt. Tim Myers, although a reading of the charges and specifications was waived by John Davis, representing Coy as assistant grievance chair for the FOP.
"Unlike the vast majority of other uses of deadly force by our officers, the evidence at hand indicates that this killing was not objectively reasonable," Myers said, according to the transcript.
Coy shot Hill "without legal justification," he said.
"When the actions of one of our own falls short, we have a responsibility to identify it, address it, correct it, and prevent it."
Davis spoke briefly on Coy's behalf, the transcript shows. He said a continuance of the hearing had been requested because Coy's attorney is on vacation and notice of the hearing wasn't provided to Coy until after 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve.
The notice documented the administrative charges against him in last Tuesday's shooting of Hill, 47. The notice included Quinlan's recommendation of termination.
Pettus is the only person within city government who has the authority to fire an officer.
Coy, 44, has worked in the department for 19 years. He was one of two officers who responded to a nonemergency disturbance call about an SUV parked on the 1000 block of Oberlin Drive that had been running on and off for a period of time.
Coy and a female officer, who has not yet been identified, arrived around 1:50 a.m. last Tuesday. About 10 seconds after encountering Hill, who was inside a garage and an expected guest at that home, Coy fired his service weapon multiple times.
Neither Coy nor the other officer turned their body cameras on until after the shooting. Because of a "look-back" feature on the cameras that records the 60 seconds before they are turned on, the shooting itself was captured on video, with no audio.
The video shows officers getting out of their cruisers and walking up the driveway to the open garage door at the home. Hill has his back turned to police. He turns around and takes four steps toward the officers with his cellphone up in his left hand and his right hand not visible.
Coy then shoots Hill and approaches him. The audio now on, Coy tells Hill to roll over, saying he can't see his right hand. Coy then asks if a medic is coming.
According to the video, at least six minutes pass before aid was rendered to Hill. Coy does not provide any initial aid and in the intervening minutes, crime scene tape is placed around the scene and more officers arrive.
Leading up to a decision from Pettus, Coy was relieved of duty, had surrendered his gun and badge and was stripped of all police powers.
The officer has had a history of complaints and issues with excessive force during his time with the police division.
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Over the weekend, family and friends remembered Hill, known to loved ones as Big Daddy, as a great friend and a great cook, one who would always lend a helping hand.
Hill was passionate about people and active in Black Lives Matter causes, his friends and family said. Hill was wearing a BLM shirt early Tuesday morning when he was confronted by Coy and the female officer.
Last week, Ginther called for Coy's firing, saying that inaction by Coy and other officers violated the police division's core values that include compassion, respect and accountability.
City Council President Shannon Hardin and council members Elizabeth Brown and Shayla Favor had called for Coy's arrest and criminal charges against him.
(Columbus Dispatch reporter Bethany Bruner contributed to this report.)