By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Columbus, OH – The city of Columbus agreed to pay $10 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit with the family of 47-year-old Andre Hill and also agreed to name a community center gymnasium after him.
The Columbus City Council will vote Monday on whether to approved the largest-ever settlement to be paid by the city, NBC News reported.
“We understand that because of this former officer’s actions, the Hill family will never be whole,” Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said in a statement. “No amount of money will ever bring Andre Hill back to his family, but we believe this is an important and necessary step in the right direction.”
Klein said the city had also agreed to rename the gym at Brentnell Community Center after Hill, NBC News reported.
The former Columbus police officer who fatally shot Hill inside a residential garage while investigating a noise complaint has been indicted for murder.
Former Columbus Police Department (CPD) Officer Adam Coy, a 19-year veteran of CPD, was fired one week after he shot Hill, as bodycam video was released to the public.
A Franklin County grand jury has indicted Coy on two counts of dereliction of duty, one count of felonious assault, and one count of murder during the commission of a felony in connection with Hill’s death, WBNS reported.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said the dereliction charges stemmed from allegations Coy neglected to tell another officer at the scene that Hill presented a danger, and that he failed to activate his bodycam prior to the encounter.
“I believe the evidence supports the indictment,” Yost said during a press conference, according to ABC News.
“Every person is responsible for and judged by his or her own actions. Neither guilt nor virtue may be inferred simply by association,” Yost continued. “The vast virtue of law enforcement is diminished by the very few bad actors among its ranks and only by holding a bad actor accountable can that virtue be sustained. Here’s what I mean in plain English: same rules for everybody.”
A magistrate set Coy’s bond at $3 million, NBC News reported.
The incident occurred at about 1:37 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2020, after Officer Coy and Officer Amy Detweiler responded to the 1000-block of Oberlin Drive for a noise complaint, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The caller reported that someone was sitting in a vehicle and had been repeatedly turning the ignition off and on, according to WOSU.
Officers failed to activate their bodycams prior to arriving at the scene, but did so immediately after the shooting, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther told reporters at a press conference later that day.
Because the cameras also capture the 60 seconds prior to activation, the incident was caught on video.
However, the audio did not begin until after shots were fired.
Bodycam footage showed officers as they made their way up a driveway towards an open overhead garage door.
Hill, who was holding a cell phone out in front of him, walked around the passenger side of the vehicle as the officers approached the threshold of the garage.
His right hand appeared to be tucked in his pocket, the video showed.
A moment later, Officer Coy frantically retreated down the driveway with his duty weapon drawn.
Officer Detweiler later told investigators that Officer Coy screamed, “there’s a gun in his other hand,” then opened fire on Hill, WBNS reported.
She said she could not recall whether or not Officer Coy ordered Hill to drop a weapon prior to the shooting, and said she did not observe any threats from Hill during the encounter, according to ABC News.
Police said Officer Coy fired multiple rounds.
The bodycam audio kicked in as he made his way back towards the garage to where Hill was lying on the ground.
“Put your f—king hand out to the side,” Officer Coy ordered. “Hands out to the side. Now!”
He instructed Hill to roll onto his stomach, but Hill remained on his side.
“Don’t get f—king close – I can’t see his f—king hand!” he warned another officer.
“Get your hand out from underneath you now!” Officer Coy ordered, just before he confirmed that medics were on their way.
He then advanced towards Hill, warning him not to move, and rolled him onto his back, the video showed.
Hill was transported to OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital, where he later died, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Police did not find a weapon at the scene.
Due to a lack of audio in the first 60 seconds of the recording, it is unknown what verbal exchange may have occurred between Hill and the officers prior to the fatal shooting.
Officer Coy was fired six days later on Dec. 28, 2020, after an internal investigation by Columbus police determined his use of deadly force against Hill was unjustified, ABC News reported.
“Unlike the vast majority of other uses of deadly force by our officers, the evidence at hand indicates that this killing was not objectively reasonable,” Columbus Police Lieutenant Tim Myers said during the disciplinary hearing, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Lt. Myers said Officer Coy discharged his duty weapon at Hill “without legal justification,” according to The Columbus Dispatch.
“When the actions of one of our own falls short, we have a responsibility to identify it, address it, correct it, and prevent it,” the lieutenant added.
The reasons Pettus listed for justification of Officer Coy’s termination included failing to activate his bodycam while out on the noise complaint, failing to render aid to Hill after the shooting, and violation of the department’s use-of-force policy.
The director further blasted the veteran officer for not attempting “to use trained techniques to de-escalate the situation,” The Columbus Dispatch reported.
“The actions of Adam Coy do not live up to the oath of a Columbus police officer, or the standards we, and the community, demand of our officers,” Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus wrote in a statement issued along with his decision to fire the veteran officer.