Ahead of a candlelight vigil on Saturday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump held a snowy press conference with Andre Hill’s family outside Brentnell Recreation Center in east Columbus. “Put your fist in the sky,” Crump led the crowd to sing. “Get up, pick her up.”
Columbus Police Officer Adam Coy fatally shot Hill during a no-911 call in early December while failing to activate his body camera and provide first aid. Coy faces the possibility of being fired as early as Monday if a disciplinary hearing is scheduled with the city’s public safety director.
Crump, who has also represented the families of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, is working with local lawyers to pursue a civil lawsuit over Hill’s murder.
After the crowd charged, Crump handed the megaphone to Karissa Hill, the daughter of Andre Hill.
“The people we trust – or whom we should trust – killed my father,” Karissa Hill said tearfully. “Jesus,” a woman burst out of the crowd in despair.
Sobbing, Karissa Hill described how difficult it was to explain what had happened to her own son.
“I couldn’t explain to him why Big Papa didn’t come home,” she said. “And I should tell my son to trust these cops when they take these innocent blacks away.”
Crump pondered the irony of wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt under Hill’s jacket when he was shot.
“It immediately made me think of Trayvon Martin and the hoodie that had the bullet hole in,” said Crump. “When we see the bullet in the Black Lives Matter shirt, how far have we come, America? How far have we come ”
Crump suggested that other local Columbus officers be ready to coordinate their stories to protect one another. Hill’s brother, Alvin Williamson, claims the family was shown an extended version of the body camera footage released to the public.
“After the officer returned to his vehicle, he said to the other officer, ‘I have to find out what the hell I’m going to say,” said Williamson.
“And what did his partner say?” Asked Crump.
“‘I have you,'” Williamson replied. “His partner replied, ‘I have you.'”
This interaction does not occur in the publicly released tape. Police insist that no other tapes have been released publicly or to the family. In the Columbus Department of Public Safety bodycam video, about 7.5 minutes after the shooting, another officer leads Coy back to a patrol car.
“I’m trying to find out what I’ve been missing,” says Coy. The officer replies: “We’ll take care of it, I promise you. We don’t have to say anything at this moment.”
Coy turns off his bodycam 12 minutes after the shooting after getting permission from a local sergeant.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into Hill’s death, and US attorney Dave DeVillers said he would look into the case for possible civil rights violations.
After calls from Mayor Andrew Ginther, activists and other city officials, Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan recommended that the city fire Coy on Thursday. Monday’s hearing will include Coy, his legal and union representative, and Public Safety Director, Ned Pettus, who will make the final decision on Coy’s discipline.
“Andre Hill should be with his family this vacation,” Quinlan wrote in his recommendation. “I ask this church to put their arms around their families and pray with me for their comfort.”
Quinlan said a separate investigation was opened against the other officers at the scene who failed to turn on their body cameras or provide assistance to Hill.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include police claim that only one unedited tape was released to the public and family.
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