By William MANSELL and BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News
(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Former Columbus, Ohio, police officer Adam Coy has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Andre Hill, the state’s attorney general announced Wednesday.
Coy has been arrested and charged with one count of murder, one count of felonious assault and two counts of dereliction duty. Coy is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday.
“I believe the evidence supports the indictment,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said at a press conference.
Hill, a 47-year-old Black man, was shot to death by Coy, who is white, on Dec. 22. Officers were responding to a 311 non-emergency call for a noise complaint.
“The family of Andre Hill is relieved this morning, but they are not satisfied with an indictment of the police officer who killed Andre Hill as he held a cell phone walking out of a garage,” Ben Crump, the Hill family’s attorney, said at a news conference Thursday.
He said the reason the family is not satisfied is because in other cases across the nation white officers have been acquitted on charges stemming from the killings of Black people.
“They want [former] officer Adam Coy to be convicted for the unjustified, unnecessary and senseless killing of Andre Hill, who was simply holding a cell phone,” Crump added.
Hill’s family members echoed Crump.
“I want to thank the grand jury for seeing what we saw and coming to the same conclusion that we came to, which was murder, because they outright murdered my brother,” said Hill’s sister, Shawna Barnett, referring to police body camera video that recorded the shooting and its aftermath. “We’re happy, it made my day yesterday, but this is not the end. We’re here for the long run however long it takes. My brother, we owe him that. I don’t want him to have died in vain.”
Hill’s only child, Karissa Hill, 27, a mother of three young children, said news of the indictment caused her to “genuinely smile” for the first time since her father’s death.
“It’s just hard because this is what’s supposed to happen when another person murders somebody. The prosecutors are supposed to do this. So, I’m just glad that this is what’s happening,” said Karissa Hill, who wore a shirt bearing her father’s likeness and the words “Justice for Fajah,” her nickname for her dad.
She noted that the indictment came just days after the Columbus City Council passed a law in her father’s name that requires police to turn on their body cameras when responding to calls and to immediately render first aid after a use-of-force incident. She also noted that the law and the indictment of Coy occurred during the first week of Black History Month.
“I just feel like Adam Coy messed with the wrong family,” she said. “And this family is not backing down. We’re not letting loose and we are on it and we are going to make sure that all four convictions happen. That’s what we want and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
Hill’s brother, Alvin Williams, said every citizen in Columbus and across the nation, regardless of race, should be outraged by his brother’s death.
“It’s not a Black and white issue. This is a people issue,” Williams said.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther also applauded the grand jury’s decision.
“The community was outraged by the killing of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, by law enforcement. The indictment does not lessen the pain of his tragic death for Mr. Hill’s loved ones, but it is a step towards justice. I thank the grand jury for their service,” Ginther said in a Twitter post.
The indictment of Coy comes just days after Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan resigned at the request of the mayor. Ginther, who hired Quinlan a little over a year ago, said that in the wake of Hill’s death the chief lost the public’s trust after failing to “successfully implement the reform and change I expect and that the community demands.”
The community was outraged by the killing of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, by law enforcement. The indictment does not lessen the pain of his tragic death for Mr. Hill’s loved ones, but it is a step towards justice. I thank the grand jury for their service.
— Mayor Andrew Ginther (@MayorGinther) February 4, 2021
One of Coy’s attorneys, Mark Collins, told ABC Columbus affiliate WSYX-TV that Coy plans to plead not guilty to the charges. Collins said the indictment against Coy, particularly the murder charge, does not make sense, saying, it suggests his client knowingly intended to kill Hill.
“The knowing element, to cause serious physical harm with a deadly weapon, and someone died, that’s the concept, however, police officers are trained a certain way to take an action and to stop a threat. So that kind of doesn’t make sense,” Collins said.
Police body camera footage released in December showed officers handcuffing an apparently lifeless Hill after shooting him multiple times, without rendering first aid.
Citing the body camera video, Crump said the officers waited about 15 minutes before they started giving Hill first aid.
Coy told officials he thought he saw a firearm on Hill before shooting. Hill had a cellphone in his left hand. No weapons were found.
Officer Amy Detweiler, who also responded to the complaint, told investigators she heard Coy scream that Hill had a gun in his hand. She said she couldn’t recall if Coy ordered Hill to drop a weapon. Detweiler also said she did not see a gun in Hill’s hand and that she didn’t observe any threats from Hill.
Police body camera footage also showed a woman coming out of the house where Hill was shot and telling police, “He was bringing me Christmas money. He didn’t do anything.” Police ordered her to go back inside the residence without asking her any questions, the footage shows.
Coy did not turn his body camera on until after he fired shots at Hill. But his camera automatically activated and recorded 60 seconds of the episode without sound.
He was fired in January after an investigation determined that his use of deadly force was not reasonable.
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