In the latest fallout after the December shooting death of 47-year-old Andre Hill, a black man, a white Ohio police officer has been charged with murder Wednesday.
After an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General’s office, former Columbus Police Officer Adam Coy was charged by a Franklin County grand jury on a murder charge. Coy also faces allegations of failing to use his body camera and failure to inform the other officer that he felt Hill posed a threat.
On Wednesday night, Coy’s attorney Mark Collins said that he will plead not guilty.
According to the recording of the call that was published, at around 1 a.m. on December 22, Coy and another officer responded to a non-emergency call from a friend about a car that had been in front of his house on the northwest side of the city that had been driving, then shut off, then turned back on.
Police bodycam video shows Hill emerging from a garage while holding up a mobile phone seconds before Coy fatally shot him. There is no audio of the incident because Coy’s body camera was not enabled; the shooting without audio was recorded by an automated ‘look back’ feature.
According to the footage released, an additional bodycam video shows two other Columbus officers turning Hill over in the moments after he was fatally shot, putting handcuffs on him before leaving him alone again. None of them provided any first aid even though Hill was barely moving, groaning, and bleeding while lying on the garage floor.
Attorney General Dave Yost said at a news conference Wednesday night, “In this case, the citizens of Franklin County, represented by the individual grand jurors, found probable cause to believe that Mr. Coy committed a crime when he killed Andre Hill by gunfire.”
He added, “Truth is the best friend of justice, and the grand jury here found the truth.”
Coy had a lengthy history of citizens’ allegations. On Dec. 28, he was terminated for not enabling his body camera before the confrontation and not offering Hill medical assistance.
Coy will fight the charges based on case law that examines such use of force incidents through the eyes of a “reasonable police officer,” Collins said that his client has fully cooperated with investigators and “honestly believed that he saw a silver revolver coming up in the right hand of the individual.”
A brief statement was released by the union representing Columbus police officers, saying it would wait to see how the case plays out.
Coy “will have the ability to present facts on his behalf at a trial just like any other citizen,” said Keith Ferrell, president of the local FOP. “At that time, we will see all the facts for the first time with the public as the process plays out.”
The indictment comes just days after Thomas Quinlan, the Columbus Police Chief, was forced out after Mayor Andrew Ginther said he lost confidence in his ability to make the necessary changes to the department.
“The indictment does not lessen the pain of his tragic death for Mr. Hill’s loved ones, but it is a step towards justice,” Ginther said.
Quinlan himself has been extremely critical of Coy and other officers’ actions and has said that if officers had helped him on the scene, Hill would be alive today.
While still grieving Hill’s death, Hill’s family is satisfied with the indictment they see as a first step, said attorney Michael Wright.
“It’s important to start holding these officers accountable for their bad actions and their bad acts,” Wright said. “I think it will go a long way for one, the public, to trust law enforcement, for two, to potentially change the behavior of officers and their interaction with individuals that shouldn’t be killed or should not endure excessive force.”
This is the second Columbus police officer recently charged with murder.