Police handcuffed lifeless Andre Hill instead of helping him, familys lawyer says
Police body camera footage released on Thursday shows Columbus, Ohio, officers handcuffing an apparently lifeless Black man after shooting him multiple times and then standing around for five minutes and 11 seconds without rendering first aid.
Andre Hill, 47, had a cell phone in his left hand, but no weapons when he emerged from a friend’s garage Dec. 22 and was shot to death.
Following the shooting, a woman came out of the house and told police, “He was bringing me Christmas money. He didn’t do anything,” according to the body camera video. Police ordered her to go back inside the residence without asking her any questions, the footage shows.
Ben Crump, the lawyer for the Hill family, said a now-fired officer opened fire without first giving Hill any verbal commands to stop and put his hands up. Crump said Hill was shot four times.
“It’s really hard to stand here and keep my composure, because I’m completely outraged in how they treated my brother,” Hill’s oldest sister, Shawna Barnett, said at a news conference following the release of the body camera videos. “It makes no sense. They showed no humanity towards him. How do you sleep at night knowing that you did this and left him there and had the nerve to turn him over and handcuff him but not offer any help. Nothing.”
Hill’s family called on prosecutors to criminally charge former Columbus Officer Adam Coy in Hill’s death.
Hill’s daughter, Karissa Hill, 27, who lived with her father along with her three young children, said in a trembling voice that she will have to remember for the rest of her life “how nobody helped him.”
“How there’s 22 officers on the scene and with body camera footage and not one of them helped my dad. But instead, the first time they touch him is to put handcuffs on,” she said.
Crump said police showed the video to family members along with him and other attorneys working on the case Thursday morning, and he said the footage confirmed the “unnecessary, unjustifiable and senseless shooting of Andre Hill.”
“Where is the humanity for Andre Hill? Where is the humanity for this Columbus citizen who had committed no crime, had no weapon, was unarmed, only holding a cell phone? Where’s the humanity for this citizen, for this father, this grandfather, this brother?” Crump said. “It makes you wonder if they had been trying to save his life versus trying to put handcuffs on him, would Andre Hill be with us today?”
Hill was fatally shot after Coy and another officer, Amy Detweiler, responded to a 311 non-emergency call for a noise complaint.
The body camera video was released a day after police made public a “informational summary” of the interview investigators conducted with Detweiler. In the interview, Detweiler said she heard Coy scream that Hill had a gun in his hand. She couldn’t recall if Coy gave Hill an order to drop a weapon.
Detweiler said she did not see a gun in Hill’s hand and that she didn’t observe any threats from Hill during the incident.
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.
Crump said that after Coy shot Hill, he and Detweiler stood near him for five minutes and 11 seconds.
“He’s on the ground struggling for breath, and none of the police officers rendered medical assistance to him,” Crump said.
He said that despite Hill lying motionless on the ground, a police supervisor told officers to handcuff him. Crump said the officers then left Hill in handcuffs for 13 minutes without providing any first aid help.
“You see on the video, they handcuff a dying man, who was unarmed, who they shot multiple times for a non-emergency 311 call,” Crump said. “What is his crime? Why are they handcuffing him?”
Michelle Hariston, another of Hill’s sisters, added that after viewing the body camera videos, she was left with the impression that police officers treated her brother “like an animal.”
“He was preyed upon, and he wasn’t given any kind of chances,” Hariston said. “We’re completely outraged at what happened.”
Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan released a video statement on Thursday saying his initial reaction to seeing the videos “was anger and deep disappointment.”
“I know it is horrifying to everyone who looks at it,” Quinlan said. “One of the core values of the Columbus Division of Police is compassion. And the body-worn camera video released today shows little evidence of that. Let me repeat what I said last week: Andre Hill should be alive today. A Columbus police officer is responsible for his death. I cannot defend it. I cannot make it right.”
Quinlan added that the violations of police policy and standards by Coy “were so clear-cut and so egregious, his termination could not wait.”
He said Coy faces an independent criminal investigation by the state, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther also issued a statement condemning what he saw in the body camera footage.
“Like most who have watched the additional body-worn camera footage from the shooting of Andre Hill and the time following, I am horrified by the time that passed before any officer provided aid to Mr. Hill,” Ginther said. “Our officers are trained to provide potentially life-saving care, and at the very least, comfort in these situations. One of the Division of Police’s core values is compassion. None of this was evident in the video released today.”
Ginther said he has directed Quinlan to investigate the incident “completely and thoroughly, and to hold all officers who failed to uphold Division standards accountable.”
But Michael Wright, another attorney representing Hill’s family, alleged the police department had numerous chances to terminate Coy in the past, adding that an investigation done by his office reportedly found 90 complaints against Coy dating back to 2001. He said 16 of the complaints were substantiated.
“That means there should have been some kind of action taken,” Wright said.
The lawyer did not detail what the reported complaints concerning Coy stemmed from, and police have yet to comment on the former officer’s record.
Wright showed reporters an enlarged copy of a report Quinlan wrote about Coy when he was his patrol lieutenant in 2008.
“In a letter I wrote in 2008 while Officer Coy’s patrol lieutenant, I made the following observation about, if sustained improvements are not fully realized, a decision whether Officer Coy is salvageable must follow,” Quinlan wrote, according to the document Wright showed reporters. “Should the interventions described above do not produce the desired results, a shift toward termination would be warranted, as Officer Coy’s service to the Division of Police will have lost all future value.”
“This didn’t have to occur,” Wright said. “If the Columbus Police ]Department would have done their job and terminated Adam Coy before this occurred then we wouldn’t be standing here today.”