When Andre Hill’s family learned the former Ohio police officer who killed him will face charges, they knew it was too early to celebrate.
“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,” family attorney Ben Crump said Thursday.
“The reason they are not satisfied is because we know, based on what has happened before in America, that when a white police officer kills an unarmed black person, that does not guarantee a conviction.”
Former Columbus police officer Adam Coy was indicted Wednesday on several charges, including murder in the commission of a felony, felonious assault and two counts of dereliction of duty related to Hill’s death.
On December 22, Coy responded to a report of a man sitting in his SUV for an extended period of time. Body camera footage shows Coy shot Hill within seconds of their encounter.
“The community was outraged by the killing of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, by law enforcement,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther tweeted Wednesday.
“The indictment does not lessen the pain of his tragic death for Mr. Hill’s loved ones, but it is a step towards justice.”
‘It’s not a Black and White issue. This is a people issue’
Thursday, for the first time since Coy’s indictment, Hill’s family spoke publicly about their gratitude and concerns moving forward.
Hill’s sister Shawna Barnett thanked the grand jury “for seeing what we saw … which was murder.”
But “we don’t want (Coy) to be charged and let go, as has been the past cases that we’ve seen — many times.”
“We want Adam Coy convicted of all the charges,” Barnett said. “We want him incarcerated.”
Hill’s brother Alvin Williams said everyone should imagine if Hill were their own family member.
“I’m just wishing that everybody — Black and White citizens — bring this tragedy home with you. And understand how you would feel if it was your loved ones,” Williams said.
“It’s not a Black and White issue. This is a people issue. And it takes all of us to actually dissect the problems,” he said. “There’s always a discrepancy when it does come to Black lives.”
Williams also expressed sympathy for other police officers.
“I’d also like to appreciate the good officers who did not deserve this,” WIlliams said. “Who has to go home every day — non-Black officers and Black officers — that has to go home and suffer and be mentally tormented, (like) ‘I can’t go and do my job and (have) people respect me, because they might feel that I’m like him.'”
Ex-officer’s attorneys said the defense will plead not guilty
Coy’s first court appearance is scheduled for Friday afternoon.
His attorneys, Mark C. Collins and Kaitlyn C. Stephens, said they would be entering a not guilty plea and request “a reasonable bond at the arraignment.”
They also said they weren’t surprised when the indictment decision was announced.
“The grand jury only hears what the prosecuting attorney wants them to hear. There is no judge. There are no rules,” the statement read. “The grand jury’s function is singular — to determine if there is probable cause to indict. This is a much different and more importantly, much lower standard than what the State of Ohio will have to prove come trial.”
Coy said Hill had a gun, report says
Coy responded to a call around 1:30 a.m. December 22 about a man who had been sitting in his SUV for an extended period, repeatedly turning his engine on and off.
Coy fatally shot Hill within seconds of their encounter as Hill walked toward Coy holding an illuminated cell phone in his left hand, body camera footage shows. Hill was unarmed.
Coy turned his camera on after the shooting. The camera’s look-back feature captured 60 seconds of video, but no audio, before Coy turned it on.
The body camera footage appears to show Coy walking toward Hill as Hill walks toward the officer. Coy started shooting within a few seconds of seeing Hill. It’s not clear whether Hill or Coy said anything during their brief interaction because Coy had not activated his body camera.
The first few seconds of Coy’s body camera video in which audio is available show Coy ordering Hill to get his hands out to the side, ordering him to get on his stomach, warning an officer to not get close because one of Hill’s arms is under the car where he collapsed.
About 37 seconds after the shooting, Coy asked whether a medic was coming.
A report prepared by the Columbus police chief after the shooting said an officer who responded with Coy said she heard Coy say he saw a gun, and that Coy yelled, “There’s a gun in his other hand, there’s a gun in his other hand!”
Shortly after reviewing the footage, Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan started the process to fire Coy.
“I have seen everything I need to see to reach the conclusion that Officer Coy must be terminated immediately,” Quinlan said on December 24.
“Some may call this a rush to judgment. It is not,” the police chief said. “This violation cost an innocent man his life.”
Quinlan stepped down from his duties in January because he “could not successfully implement the reform and change” the mayor wanted, Ginther said.
The mayor’s office said Quinlan will remain with the Division of Police as deputy chief.