Andre Hill was approaching a Columbus police officer with his phone in hand when he was fatally shot.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus police officer who fatally shot an unarmed Black man on the city’s Northwest Side on Tuesday has a history of complaints and issues with excessive force.
Adam Coy, 44, has been a police officer in Columbus since July 2001.
According to previous reporting by The Dispatch, part of the USA TODAY Network, Coy had nine complaints filed against him in 2003, four of those coming in a one-month period. Coy received written counseling, The Dispatch reported at the time.
In 2012, the city paid $45,000 to a man who Coy had stopped for drunken driving one morning at 3 a.m.
According to reports from The Dispatch, a cruiser camera showed Coy “banging the driver’s head into the hood four times during the arrest.” His actions were deemed “excessive for the situation.”
In addition to the city’s settlement with the driver for $45,000, Coy was suspended for 160 hours.
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The Dispatch has requested a copy of Coy’s personnel file from the Division of Police.
Coy could not be reached for comment Wednesday. His two-story home in Union County is decorated for Christmas but now has a store-bought “No Trespassing” sign taped to the front door.
On Tuesday, Coy shot and killed 47-year-old man, identified Wednesday as Andre’ Maurice Hill, at a home on the 1000 block of Oberlin Drive after responding to a complaint from a neighbor around 1:30 a.m. about a person sitting in a SUV and turning its engine on and off repeatedly.
Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said Coy and another officer who responded to the scene but did not fire a weapon did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther (center) and Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus prepare to speak outside of Columbus City Hall following an officer-involved shooting that morning on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2020 at the 1000 block of Oberlin Dr. in Columbus, Ohio. At about 1:30 a.m., Columbus Division of Police officers responded to a disturbance and while at the scene interacted with a man who was shot by an officer and later died. (Photo: Joshua A. Bickel, Joshua A. Bickel/Columbus Dispat)
The body cameras have a 60-second “look-back” feature that captures video, but not audio. This look-back recorded the shooting, indicating the officers turned the cameras on within 60 seconds of the shooting taking place.
Division policy for the body cameras, which were a $5 million investment by the city, requires officers to have the cameras on “when dispatched or upon a self-initiated response to a Priority 1 or 2 call for service.”
The complaint on Tuesday morning was made through the division’s non-emergency phone line and would have been considered a Priority 2 call.
Division policy states that officers should activate their body cameras when calls that are not for service become“enforcement actions” or become adversarial. The camera should be turned on “at the start of an enforcement action or at the first reasonable opportunity to do so,” the policy states.
Coy and the other officer, who has not been identified, also delayed giving medical aid to the man following the shooting, the city said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon.
Division policy says that all sworn personnel are required to render “appropriate aid and/or summon emergency medical services … as soon as it is reasonable and safe to do so.”
The body camera footage was released Wednesday. Also on Wednesday, Ginther asked for Coy to be fired after being relieved of duty, what the division of police calls suspension, on Tuesday.
Public Safety Director Ned Pettus said Coy will be served with a list of charges by the chief of police and then will have a hearing before Pettus prior to being terminated, in accordance with the United States Constitution and the collective bargaining agreement with the city and the Fraternal Order of Police.
The charges against Coy will likely focus on violations of division policy related to the failure of Coy and the female officer with him to turn on their body cameras until after the shooting or immediately render aid to Hill.
Shortly after Ginther’s press conference Wednesday afternoon, City Council President Shannon Hardin issued a statement calling for the immediate arrest of Coy, calling Hill’s death an “unjustified killing.”
Activists and community leaders have also expressed frustration and dismay.
“We were outraged,” said Nana Watson, the local NAACP chapter president. “It’s another sad day in the community.”
“Why do we have the body cameras if they aren’t going to be turned on?” Watson asked. “It begs the question, when you don’t have the body camera on and something like this happens, what’s the punishment for not having it turned on?”
Policies surrounding the use of police body cameras need to be closely examined, Watson said.
“We need an explanation as to why this occurred,” she said. “Law enforcement officers are going to have to be held accountable for their actions.”
State Sens. Hearcel Craig and Erica Crawley, both Democrats from Columbus, issued a joint statement Wednesday, saying they were devastated and frustrated by Tuesday’s events.
“We don’t know how much you can change the hearts and minds of individuals who will continue to see Black people as a threat,” they said. “You can’t train that fear and hatred away. There is something deeply wrong within the Columbus Police Department and there needs to be answers.”
The pair of legislators did acknowledge that “many members” of the police division “honor their positions with integrity and responsibility.”
“The flagrant and malicious actions of those who abuse their authority and public trust must be swiftly and deliberately punished,” they said. “The status quo is not working for our community, and the recently developed civilian review board needs to be activated and fully engaged to ensure justice is being served.”
Columbus City Council said in a press release that council members “are beyond frustrated at this senseless death.”
“The compounding heartbreak of learning an unarmed black man was killed last night by a Columbus police officer is beyond description,” the release said. “Thoughts and prayers cannot soothe this pain.”
Tuesday’s shooting came 18 days after 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. was fatally shot outside his Northland home by Franklin County Sheriff’s SWAT deputy Jason Meade.
“I don’t know how much more this city can take,” Watson said. “(This month) has been filled with anger, sadness and disappointment towards law enforcement who are supposed to defend and protect.”
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty called Tuesday morning’s shooting “unacceptable.”
“There are not enough words to express the pain and anger I feel that another Black man has been killed in our community at the hands of law enforcement in less than a month,” she said in a statement. “I am greatly concerned and call into question police procedures as well as the timing and inconsistent use of body cameras.”
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Keith Ferrell, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, said in a statement Wednesday afternoon that the union believes due process is important.
“These investigations are meant to be independent which should also include independence from influence of city officials to maintain the integrity of that investigation,” Ferrell said.
The Goodson investigation is being handled by Columbus police, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and is being overseen by David DeVillers, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Contributing: Holly Zachariah, Columbus Dispatch. Follow Columbus reporters Bethany Bruner and Megan Henry on Twitter: @bethany_bruner and @megankhenry.
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