By Zack Linly
The Dec 22 shooting of 47-year-old Andre Hill in Columbus, Ohio, is arguably among the most reckless acts of police brutality we’ve seen this year — and that’s saying a lot. As the investigation into the incident — in which a white police officer opened fire on a Black man who was standing in a garage clearly holding a cellphone, repeatedly shouted at him to “put your fucking hands out to the side” while he was lying on the ground shot and then failed to provide medical help — continues, new details have emerged. Those details include the second officer on the scene reporting that she “did not observe any threats” from Hill that would prompt an officer to shoot in the first place.
ABC News reports that Officer Amy Detwiler, who arrived at the scene after now-former officer Adam Coy, the one who fired the shots and was subsequently fired for incompetence and “gross neglect of duty,” said she saw Hill walk away from a car when she arrived in response to a non-emergency call involving an SUV left idling.
As The Root previously reported, Coy didn’t have his body camera on until after the shooting, but because the cameras have a function that records 60 seconds of “look back” footage, video footage of the shooting was recorded and recently released by the police department. No audio could be heard before the shots were fired, but Detwiler’s report to investigators sheds some light on what preceded the shooting.
Detwiler didn’t see any interaction between Hill and Coy, but said Coy told her Hill had walked into a next-door garage.
After the officers crossed over to the garage they saw Hill, with Detwiler telling investigators “she felt Mr. Hill may need assistance to enter the residence,” according to her interview.
Coy asked Hill in a “normal tone of voice” to exit the garage and Hill complied but without responding, Detwiler said.
As Hill walked out, Detwiler “did not observe any threats from Mr. Hill,” nor did she see a gun, the internal affairs report said.
“Officer Detwiler stated Officer Coy observed a firearm and yelled, ‘There’s a gun in his other hand, there’s a gun in his other hand!’” the report said. “Officer Detwiler heard gunfire at this moment.”
No gun was found at the scene, police said.
A few gentle reminders: First, this all came from a call to police about a truck left running in the street. Second, Hill approached officers after he was ordered to do so and was holding his cellphone in the air with the screen lit up and facing the officers — meaning he was going far out of his way to show he wasn’t armed or presenting any kind of threat, but he was still shot all the same. Third, despite the spotlight on police brutality and systemic racism in policing that has been in place since the death of George Floyd, a lot of cops seem to not be getting the message. Lastly, as we previously reported, Coy is no rookie cop. He’s a 19-year police veteran with dozens of misconduct complaints — including excessive force allegations — in his personnel file.Coy is still under criminal investigation and hopefully, he will be charged in Hill’s death, but his firing should have come long ago. Hill should still be alive today.