Karissa Hill, daughter of Andre Hill, is comforted by family as she weeps while her father's casket is closed at the start of the funeral services for Hill on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.
( Joshua A. Bickel/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
Cindy Rodriguez: I'm Cindy Rodriguez in for Tanzina Vega and you're listening to The Takeaway. We turn now to another police shooting and its aftermath. On December 22nd of 2020, Andre Hill was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, after a non-emergency call reported someone was turning a car on and off. When police arrived, body camera footage showed Andre walking out of a garage with his cell phone in hand and in a brief instance, police fatally shot him.
Police handcuffed Andre and neglected to give him any first aid as he lay dying on the ground. Yesterday, community members gathered for Andre's public memorial service. Here's Reverend Al Sharpton.
Al Sharpton: Anybody that stood there with their bodycam off and then began conjuring up an alibi and then let him lay there, struggling and then look at a man that on his way to the other side and say, "He's still breathing, handcuff him," all of you need to face the bar of justice.
Cindy: I'm joined now by Farnoush Amiri, a reporter with the Report for America, Associated Press Statehouse initiative in Ohio. Farnoush, thank you so much for being with us.
Farnoush: Hi, thank you for having me.
Cindy: Farnoush, you've been speaking with community members and people who knew Andre Hill. Tell us what they've been saying about him.
Farnoush: We've spoken to a number of Hill's friends and family members and they all described him in the same way. He was a hard-working, generous, and strategic guy who tend to bring people together in his life.
Cindy: Walk us through the shooting. The body camera footage shows police walking up to someone's garage. Tell us, why were they there in the first place?
Farnoush: Andre was visiting a friend in a Columbus neighborhood nearby and a neighbor made a non-emergency call, a 311 call, about a car in the driveway that was turning on and off, seeming to not be able to work the car. Officer Adam Coy with the Columbus Division of Police responded to the call close to after 1:00 AM and a 60-second bodycam footage shows Hill coming out from the garage holding a cell phone in his left hand and his right hand appears obscured in the video. Within seconds, Coy shoots Hill multiple times and police ended up finding no gun at the scene.
What's interesting about the body cam footage is that there's no audio of it, because he did not turn his body camera on until after the shooting, but there's a playback feature that shows you 60 seconds before that. That is the only reason we have any footage of the incident.
Cindy: I see, interesting. Just again, to clarify, this was a 311 call, not a 911 call.
Farnoush: Yes, a non-emergency call.
Cindy: Tell us about Adam Coy. What's his history as a police officer?
Farnoush: He is a 19-year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police. Actually, going through his personnel file, we found a number of complaints against him. One of them including a routine traffic stop where he bashed the head of the person in the traffic stop against his hood of his car. There was a number of complaints against him. Reverend Al Sharpton and a number of his family members questioned yesterday why he was even on the force, let alone allowed to respond to a 311 call like that.
Cindy: He's been fired, tell us on what grounds. Also tell us are prosecutors investigating the shooting too and which ones?
Farnoush: He was fired from the Columbus Division of Police on December 28th. It was actually a quite a quick turnaround as a number of cases-- the one that you were just speaking about in Kenosha, rarely do these cases end up in firings, but this one, less than a week later, the Columbus chief of police and the public security safety director ordered his firing saying there's no way they could defend it.
There's also an internal police investigation into the other two officers who were there to determine if they violated police protocol by not providing aid and in adequate amount of time. Separately from the police investigation, there's a criminal investigation ongoing. The Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, has been named special prosecutor in that case. The US Attorney's Office of Central Ohio is involved and they've also asked for the help of the FBI's civil rights division to see if there were any civil rights violations.
Cindy: There's a lot more to learn about this shooting. What's been the response from the community so far? What are they demanding from local law enforcement and from the city of Columbus?
Farnoush: Hill was killed three days before Christmas but that did not stop demonstrators and protesters in Columbus from hitting the streets. Even when it was snowing or Christmas Eve, the activist groups had just organized a number of protests for Casey Goodson Jr, a 23-year-old Black man who was killed by a sheriff's deputy in Columbus three weeks prior.
For them, they tell me that this is-- they're used to [unintelligible 00:05:30] as there have been a number of high profile police shootings of Black men in Columbus in recent years. It seems like many of them-- they're reaching a boiling point of when do things change? It seems like even the Columbus Mayor, Andrew Ginther, has been really vocal about this and really putting himself on the line to say like, "This does not represent Columbus. This does not represent the police officers in this city."
Cindy: This frustration has a history. Can you tell us a little bit about the police department in Columbus, Ohio over the years and decades?
Farnoush: Yes. There have been a number of cases, none of them have made the national news that Andre Hill's case made or even Casey Goodson Jr's case made. A lot of those times, there was no body camera footage available. There was kind of a he said, she said situation between the family and the police. There was actually a unit created to investigate these types of police-involved shootings.
There's been a lot of criticism of that unit because community members and family members think that it's the police investigating themselves. After the protest in June, for George Floyd's death in Columbus, they got really intense here in Columbus, Ohio and the mayor of Columbus actually asked the attorney general's office if any case between a police shooting anyone would go straight to them so it would not be under Columbus police investigation.
Cindy: Farnoush, thank you so much for covering this issue.
Farnoush: Thank you guys for having me.
Cindy: Farnoush Amiri is a reporter with the Report for America, Associated Press Statehouse initiative in Ohio.
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