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COLUMBUS, Ohio—Authorities here have identified 47-year-old Andre Maurice Hill as the unarmed Black man shot and killed by police earlier this week, with body-cam video showing the cop opening fire on him in the garage of a home he was visiting.
Adam Coy, the officer who carried out the shooting, has a remarkably dense history of complaints against him, including a 2012 excessive force case that led to a $45,000 city payout to a victim.
Coy, 44, was responding to a complaint about a man and an SUV early Tuesday morning. Body-camera footage from one of the officers, released Wednesday and published below, shows police approaching Hill. Because the officers had not enabled their body cameras before the shooting, there is no audio of the incident before Coy opens fire.
The footage shows Hill turning around to face the officers. He holds a cell phone in his left hand, with the illuminated screen out, as if to show what he is holding. Shots are heard. In audio that begins after those shots, Coy shouts at another officer not to approach Hill, who is laying on the garage floor, because Coy cannot see the man’s left hand. He shouts at Hill to “put your fucking hands out to the side” and to “roll on your stomach, now.”
Eventually, Coy takes one of Hill’s arms and rolls him onto his back. Though Hill is immobile, Coy does not immediately give him aid.
Neither Coy nor the Columbus Police Department immediately responded to requests for comment. A police report for the incident is short and grim. “Officer discharged his firearm upon confronting Mr. Hill. Mr. Hill did not survive his injuries,” it reads.
Coy is a 19-year veteran of Columbus’s police force. But his tenure has been marked with complaints, including allegations of excessive force. His is just part of a remarkably opaque local history of police violence, including the killing of 23-year-old Black man Casey Goodson by a sheriff’s deputy just weeks ago.
Goodson’s funeral was being held on Wednesday, nearly concurrent to the release of footage showing the killing of Hill.
Paisha Thomas, 46, an artist and racial-justice activist based in Columbus, said the local criminal justice system needs top-down reform, calling for the resignation of Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Police Chief Thomas Quinlan. Both men described the fatal shooting of Hill as a disturbing one even before body-cam footage was released, a testament to official awareness of the potential for local outrage to boil over.
“I think one of the things we need to do right now is get rid of Quinlan. He needs to be fired for gross negligence,” Thomas told The Daily Beast. “Ginther has known about this problem, about the egregious, excessive use of force by Columbus Police, before he even took office. They gotta go. They need to be fired.”
On Wednesday, Mayor Ginther called for Coy to be fired, indicating that several minutes passed after the shooting before Hill got medical attention.
As Coy opened fire, “I heard ‘pop, pop, pop,’” the neighbor who called 911 about the SUV previously told The Daily Beast. “No glass, no screams. I said, ‘What the hell’s going on out here?’”
Audio of the 911 call, reviewed by The Daily Beast, reveals the neighbor complaining about the SUV idling. He said he hadn’t gone out to inspect the situation. “I’d go out there, but I don’t want to get in trouble,” the caller told 911 with a short chuckle. “I don’t have a gun.”
Warning: The police body-cam footage below is graphic and disturbing.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio announced on Wednesday that he will review the shooting for potential federal civil rights violations. He will not have to look very hard for evidence of past misconduct.
During a drunk-driving stop in October 2012, Coy punched a man, slammed him on the ground, and repeatedly bashed his head into the hood of his car while the man was handcuffed. The incident, witnessed by a college student and Coy’s own dashboard camera, was so bad the victim was awarded a $45,000 settlement from the city.
An internal police investigation found that the driver did not appear to be resisting arrest in the first place.
“To me, we have to be concerned about somebody from the outside looking in to this type of behavior,” Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs told Coy during a disciplinary hearing, reported by the Columbus Dispatch. “You are not allowed to use force that’s unnecessary and unreasonable. You have to control yourself.”
Still, Coy remained on the force, following a 160-hour suspension.
Other incidents have dotted Coy’s professional record. The Dispatch reported nine complaints against him in 2003, alone. He received written counseling for those incidents.
A Daily Beast review of Coy’s Internal Affairs Bureau file reveal more than 180 complaints against him since he joined the force. Most were labeled as unfounded, unsustained, or within the allowed limits of police force. But at least 16 reports were marked as sustained.
Among them are six complaints of Coy engaging in “rude or discourteous language or actions” during arrests or questioning. Five complaints related to a “violation of police rules, orders, etc.” during arrests or questioning are also marked as sustained.
The fatal shooting, from an officer with a history of complaints, is emblematic of Columbus’s police department, where from 2001 to 2017, just six percent of officers made up half of all police complaints, according to a report from The Appeal.
In one representative case, just two months before Coy was filmed banging a man’s head into a car, two police officers beat a Black college student into unconsciousness while arresting him for what ended up as a littering case. One of his arresting officers had 14 misconduct complaints on her record. Another one of the officers had 40 misconduct complaints, Reuters reported.
Morgan Harper, 36, a Columbus attorney and activist, said the deaths of Hill and Goodson had frayed already-tense relations between the community and police.
“This is another tragedy, and we as a community are sick of seeing unarmed Black men die at the hands of police,” she said.
Columbus Police and other local law-enforcement agencies have also been criticized for what advocates say is a notable lack of transparency. Details surrounding the death of Goodson remained in dispute even as his funeral took place on Wednesday, with authorities stating officers shot him after he was seen holding a gun, and family members inside his home at the time of the shooting stating that they did not see him with a weapon. There is no body camera footage of his death.
Advocates for police reform told Reuters that details on some past incidents were missing—because Columbus Police routinely purge their records every four years.
“We shred them in various cycles,” a Columbus Police records custodian told the outlet.
A 19-year veteran of the Columbus Police force like Coy might have worked through four of those cycles.
Immediately following Ginther’s press conference, a group of about 20 community activists gathered in front of Columbus City Hall. They pinned a banner to the entrance that read “Columbus Isn’t Safe for Black People.”
Community organizer Hana Abdur-Rahim said the purpose of the gathering was to express solidarity with the families of Hill, Goodson, and others who have lost loved ones to police shootings.
“Everyone’s grieving right now,” she told The Daily Beast. “We’re connecting with them about how they want us to show up for them.”