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Officer in Columbus, Ohio fatally shoots Black man and only then turns on body camera, officials say

Police officer shoots unarmed Black man
Bodycam footage shows police officer shooting unarmed Black man in Columbus, Ohio 03:02

Columbus, Ohio — A police officer who shot and killed a Black man holding a cellphone in Ohio's capital city early Tuesday did not activate his body camera beforehand, and dash cameras on the officers' cruiser were also not activated, city officials said. Because of an automatic "look back" feature on the body camera, the shooting was captured on video but without audio, according to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and the city's department of public safety.

As a result, there's no way to hear what 47-year-old Andre Hill or the officer, who has been identified as Adam Coy, said during the interaction, Ginther said.

Body camera footage from immediately after the shooting indicated "a delay in rendering of first-aid to the man," the public safety department said in a news release.

"It is unacceptable to me and the community that officers did not turn on their cameras," Ginther said during a news conference.

Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan echoed the sentiment in a statement a few minutes later.

"The Division invested millions of dollars in these cameras for the express purpose of creating a video and audio record of these kinds of encounters," Quinlan said. "They provide transparency and accountability, and protect the public, as well as officers, when the facts are in question."

Officers activated their body cameras immediately after the shooting, Quinlan said.

Noted civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump also weighed in, on Twitter:

Police said officers were responding to a neighbor's non-emergency call at 1:37 a.m. about a man sitting in a vehicle for a long time, repeatedly turning the vehicle on and off. Because it was a non-emergency call, the cruiser dash cam wasn't activated.

On arrival, officers arrived to find a garage door open and a man inside.

In the body camera video, "the man walked toward the officer with a cellphone in his left hand," police said. "His right hand was not visible."

Coy fired and hit Hill, who died just under an hour later at a local hospital. There was no weapon recovered at the scene, police said.

Scene of fatal police shooting of Black man by Columbus, Ohio officer early on December 22, 2020. CBS affiliate WBNS-TV

Hill was visiting someone at the home at the time, police said.

Quinlan relieved Coy of duty, ordered him to turn in his gun and badge and stripped him of police powers pending the outcome of investigations into the shooting. By union contract, Coy will still be paid. A message was left with the union representing Columbus officers.

The look-back function, known as "buffering," is a common technology on body cameras and is meant to address this exact situation, said Charles Katz, an Arizona State University criminal justice professor.

Although the cameras' video is perpetually running, they only begin recording once they're activated, saving whatever they're set to, such as 30 seconds or a minute, Katz said.

"In a technical sense it's always recording but it's not saved until it's activated, and then it only saves the prior 60 seconds," Katz said.

The City Council issued a statement describing members as "beyond frustrated" at the news.

"We are impatient for answers but insist on a thorough, professional, and complete investigation that ensures justice is done," the statement said.

The state's Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, which is city policy for shootings involving Columbus police. Ginther said he's also asked the U.S. Attorney for Columbus to review the case for violations of the victim's federal civil rights.

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers is also investigating the Decemer 4 shooting of Casey Goodson Jr. by a Franklin County sheriff's deputy.

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