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Columbus, Ohio, Police Officer Fatally Shoots An Unarmed Black Man

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

In Columbus, Ohio, a familiar and tragic story is playing out again. Police responded to a nonemergency call and killed a Black man. His name was Andre Maurice Hill. He was not armed. In this case, officers who responded to the scene did not turn on their body cameras until after shots were fired. We should warn you that the footage we do have audio of is disturbing. Columbus is still reeling after the law enforcement killing of a different Black man earlier this month, 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. Reporter Nick Evans is covering the story for member station WOSU in Columbus. Hi, there.

NICK EVANS, BYLINE: Hey. How are you?

SHAPIRO: All right. So this happened early Tuesday morning. Tell us about what led up to the shooting.

EVANS: Right. A call about a suspicious vehicle, about 1:30 in the morning. Two police officers respond. When they arrived, there's an open garage door. They approach and shine their flashlights into it. Hill walks out toward them, holding up a cell phone. And then, in less than five seconds, one of the officers, Adam Coy, shoots Hill.

After the shots are fired, there's, like, a five-minute delay before any officers approach to render aid. On the camera footage that we do have, you can see Hill lying motionless on the ground, groaning and breathing heavily. Here's some audio of the incident. But I should warn - it is pretty disturbing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ADAM COY: Get your hand up from underneath you now. We got a medic coming?

ANDRE HILL: (Groaning).

COY: Don't move, dude.

HILL: (Groaning).

EVANS: Hill was later transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.

SHAPIRO: Columbus police wear body cameras, and they are supposed to record their interactions with the public. But this footage is incomplete, is that right?

EVANS: Right. So department policy says that when officers go out on a call, they're supposed to turn their cameras on at the start of an enforcement action or at the first reasonable opportunity. That didn't happen here. The camera was switched on after Officer Coy fired his gun. Now, there is a 60-second look back. So what happens is it's always running and overwriting and only keeping that 60 seconds. So we have video of the incident, but no audio leading up to the shooting.

SHAPIRO: And this is, as we mentioned, the second police shooting of an unarmed Black man in less than three weeks. So what has the official response been?

EVANS: Exhaustion, anger and just disbelief. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther was furious yesterday that the officers didn't have their cameras activated. And here's what he had to say today.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANDREW GINTHER: Yesterday, I called on Chief Quinlan to relieve Coy of duty, stripping him of his badge, gun and police powers. After further review of the incident, today, I am calling for the immediate termination of Coy.

EVANS: So one of the things that Ginther really harped on was the idea of the delay in rendering aid. He just said it was a stunning disregard for life.

SHAPIRO: And just briefly, what are others in the community saying?

EVANS: Well, yeah. The shooting comes after - like, two weeks after a sheriff's deputy shot Cassie Goodson Jr., whose funeral was actually today. He was shot bringing lunch home to his family. No body camera footage in that either. And Stephanie Hightower, who leads the local Urban League, says just these two things back-to-back - she's in disbelief.

STEPHANIE HIGHTOWER: I don't even know how to say to my son, I need you to trust the police anymore because I can't in good faith and conscience. I mean, I don't know what to tell him. I just don't.

SHAPIRO: That's Stephanie Hightower of the Columbus Urban League, brought to us by Nick Evans, reporter with member station WOSU in Columbus, Ohio. Thank you.

EVANS: Anytime.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.