Second Columbus Officer Thought Andre Hill Didn't Pose Threat Before Fatal Shooting
Documents from the disciplinary investigation into fired Columbus Police officer Adam Coy are providing a fuller account of what happened before Coy shot and killed Andre Hill.
Coy and another officer, identified as Amy Detweiler, were responding to a non-emergency call on December 22 when they encountered Hill in an Oberlin Drive garage. Coy was fired Monday by Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus for his unreasonable use of force, failure to activate his body camera and failure to administer first aid.
In an interview with investigators, Detweiler says Coy initially asked Hill to exit the garage in a normal tone of voice, and then shouted that Hill had a gun in the moments before pulling the trigger. Hill was in fact unarmed, and held a cell phone in his left hand.
The service call that brought Coy and Detweiler to the scene was not an emergency – prompted by a neighbor phoning police about a man sitting inside a vehicle for a prolonged amount of time – but both officers approached the home with guns drawn.
Detweiler says Coy was already on the scene when she arrived, and said she saw Hill walking from a gray SUV into the garage. Mayor Andrew Ginther has said that Hill was an "expected guest" at the home.
Although Detweiler says Hill was not attempting to enter the house, she was concerned why he was in the garage, noting he might “need assistance to enter the residence.” Detweiler says Hill did not respond verbally to Coy asking him to exit the garage.
“Mr. Hill acknowledged Officer Coy’s request by turning and walking out of the garage,” reads Detweiler’s interview summary.
Detweiler says she saw no threat from Hill as he turned and walked toward them, but Coy reacted as Hill lowered the hand holding his cell phone.
“There’s a gun in his other hand, there’s a gun in his other hand,” Detweiler reported hearing Coy shout.
Coy's body camera footageshows that he fatally shot Hill within 10 seconds of approaching him in the garage. However, because Coy did not activate his camera until after the shooting, there is no audio for the first 60 seconds of the footage – and therefore no recording of Coy's interaction with Hill.
A preliminary report from the Franklin County County Coroner's office found that Hill's probable cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.
Investigative materials from the Columbus Division of Police also confirm that officers on the scene handcuffed Hill while he was on the ground. Neither Coy nor Detweiler attempted to provide first aid to Hill, who didn't receive help until over five minutes after being shot.
"Mr. Hill laid on the ground while the officers immediately called for a medic, However, there was a protracted delay for the medic to arrive and no officers at the scene administered first aid or provided reassurance to Mr. Hill until several minutes later," Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan wrote in his recommendation to Pettus.
On Monday, Pettus said the department is currently investigating whether the other officers at the scene violated policy by failing to provide aid or activate their own body cameras. No other officer, including Detweiller, has yet been presented with internal charges. Detweiler has been placed on administrative, non-patrol duties while the investigations proceed.
Quinlan's letter to Pettus also mentioned in vague terms that something was different about Coy and Detweiler’s demeanors following the shooting.
“I have responded to many officer-involved shooting scenes and spoken with many officers following these critical incidents,” Quinlan writes. “There was something very distinct about the officers’ engagement following this critical incident that is difficult to describe for this letter.”
Lawyers for Hill's family have questioned the actions of officers after the shooting, and called for murder charges against Coy.
A state criminal investigation into Hill's death is ongoing, as is a federal civil rights probe led by the U.S. Attorney's Office. No charges have been announced yet against Coy.