Columbus Public Safety Director Deciding Whether To Fire Officer Who Killed Andre Hill
Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus is expected to decide soon whether to fire Columbus Police Officer Adam Coy, who killed Andre Hill during a service call last Tuesday morning.
Coy, who was relieved of duty last week, faces departmental charges of failing to activate his body camera and failing to provide medical aid, a violation of the use-of-force policy.
Pettus held a disciplinary hearing for Coy on Monday morning, although Coy did not attend. Members of the Fraternal Order of Police were present on Coy's behalf.
Coy and another officer were responding to a non-emergency call on Oberlin Drive just before 2 a.m. on December 22 when they encountered Hill inside a neighbor's garage, where Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says Hill was an "expected guest."
A Cranbrook resident had reported seeing a man inside a vehicle, turning it on and off repeatedly, but there's no indication whether Hill was the person referenced by the caller.
Body camera footage shows Coy shining a flashlight on an open garage, where Hill turns around with a cellphone in his hand. Hill takes a few steps towards the officers, but within five seconds, Coy raises his gun and shoots Hill. The Franklin County Coroner on Monday released a preliminary report finding that Hill died from "multiple gunshot wounds," with a full autopsy expected in 12-14 weeks.
Coy and the other officer did not activate their body cameras until after the shooting, so the first 60 seconds of the footage has no audio, meaning there is no sound of Coy's encounter with Hill.
On Christmas Eve, just two days after Hill's death, Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan recommended the division fire Coy, an action urged by Ginther and several members of Columbus City Council. In a video statement, Quinlan explained how the charges will proceed.
“The next step in the process is a hearing before the Public Safety Director," Quinlan says. "That will happen Monday morning, after which the director will rule on my recommendation for termination.”
Quinlan bypassed the normal disciplinary process by issuing his recommendation without holding a hearing of his own with Coy, but the final call on Coy's discipline lays with Pettus. The Public Safety director previously said he would conduct a "clear, impartial hearing" as required under the police union contract. Coy is a 19-year veteran of the department.
"Officer Coy was provided an opportunity to be heard by the Director who will ultimately make the decision regarding his continued employment. Members of the Fraternal Order of Police attended the hearing on behalf of Officer Coy, who was not in attendance," the Department of Public Safety said in a statement around noon Monday. "Director Pettus will now review all evidence and documentation submitted and render a prompt decision regarding Officer Coy’s employment."
Coy will remain relieved of duty – meaning he is stripped of his badge, gun and all police powers – while Pettus considers his decision. Even if Coy is fired, the FOP may still choose to appeal the decision through arbitration.
The FOP has not responded to requests for comment.
Quinlan says the division’s disciplinary investigation has actually been proceeding on two tracks.
“This first investigation is related to Officer Coy’s unreasonable use of deadly force, failure to activate his body worn camera and failure to render aid to Mr. Hill,” Quinlan describes. “The second investigation pertains to the additional officers involved in this incident who either failed to activate their body cameras or failed to render aid.”
It took more than five minutes for any officer to offer first aid to Hill, who later died after being transported to Riverside Hospital a few blocks away.
No internal charges have yet been announced against the other officers who responded to the scene, none of whom have been named.
State officials conducting a criminal investigation into Coy’s actions, and the U.S. Attorney is reviewing the case for potential civil rights charges. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost was named a special prosecutor in the case. No criminal or federal charges have been announced yet against Coy.
Hill's death was the second case this month of a white law enforcement officer in Columbus fatally shooting a Black man. The U.S. Attorney's Office is also conducting a federal criminal and civil rights investigation into the death of Casey Goodson Jr., who was killed at his home by Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade.