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Columbus City Council Passes Law Requiring Police Officers To Activate Body Cameras

Body camera footage from Columbus Police officer Adam Coy just after the fatal shooting of Andre Maurice Hill on Dec. 22, 2020.
Columbus Police
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Body camera footage from Columbus Police officer Adam Coy just after the fatal shooting of Andre Hill on Dec. 22, 2020.

Columbus City Council last night signed off on a new law requiring police officers to activate their body cameras and provide first aid if a person is injured by an officer.

The law is named after Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man killed by a white Columbus Police officer in December. Adam Coy, who has since been fired from the department, did not activate his camera before shooting Hill or help the man as he laid dying on a garage floor.

“As we seek justice in the death of Andre’ Hill, there are two things we know for sure,” Council President Shannon Hardin said in a statement. “The officer on the scene did not immediately activate the City-issued body camera, and neither of the officers dispatched administered medical aid. This is something we can address now.”

Any officer who violates the law can be subject to discipline, but Council says that it will allow "egregious cases" to be charged with dereliction of duty, a second-degree misdemeanor.

The attorney for Hill's family, Ben Crump, spoke at Monday night's Council meeting. He says the law needs to be replicated by the state and federal govenrment. 

"This effective and responsive leadership in putting forth Andre’s Law is one that we pray will be able to be replicated on the state level and on the national level.” Crump said.

The city was able to retrieve footage of the shooting because of a "lookback" feature, which offers video but no sound of the 60 seconds prior to activation. Once the body camera was activated, the footage also shows officers failing to offer aid to Hill for more than 10 minutes.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Public Safety officials moved quickly to fire Coy, who could still face criminal charges in the shooting. Other officers who responded to the scene – including Officer Amy Detweiller, who was also present when Coy shot Hill – are also being investigated for possibly failing to activate their body cameras or administering aid.

Hill's sister, Shawna Barnett, also spoke at the meeting and said she wants Coy to be charged and convicted of murder.

“It is a beginning, but it is not the end for us because our lives will never be normal again. Andre was taken from us, and we fully want Adam Coy convicted for murder," Barnett said.

City Council last night also signed off on a more than $1 million settlement to the family of Donna Castleberry, a woman killed by a Columbus Police Vice officer in 2018.

The officer, Andrew Mitchell, remains in jail on murder charges for killing Castleberry. He killed Castleberry in the back of an unmarked vehicle after she was detained on an outstanding warrant.

Mitchell retired in bad standing with the department, and has pleaded not guilty to the charges, saying he acted in self-defense after Castleberry stabbed him in the hand. Mitchell is also facing federal civil rights charges for allegedly arresting women and forcing them to have sex in exchange for their freedom, and is accused of rape in a civil lawsuit.