Officer who witnessed fatal shooting of Andre Hill says she did not see him pose a threat

An officer who witnessed the fatal shooting of Andre Hill in Ohio told investigators that she did not see Hill posing a threat before he was killed, according to documents obtained by CBS News. The officer who shot Hill, identified as Adam Coy, was fired Monday by the city’s director of public safety after the Columbus police chief called the shooting “horrific” and recommended his termination.

Previously released body camera footage showed Coy approaching Hill, a 47-year-old Black man, as he was standing inside a garage on December 22. Hill walked toward Coy holding his cellphone and Coy opened fire within seconds. Hill then fell to the ground as Coy yelled for him to show his hands. The video did not show Coy providing any medical aid to Hill, who was treated by medics several minutes later. Hill was taken to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead. 

Coy did not turn on his body camera before approaching Hill — but a 60-second automatic “look back” feature, triggered when Coy turned on the camera after the shooting, captured the incident without sound. 

Police investigators’ December 23 interview with Officer Amy Detweiler, documented in a summary obtained by CBS News on Tuesday, provides more details about the events leading up to the fatal shooting. Detweiler told investigators she responded to the scene after receiving reports of a person turning an SUV’s engine on and off at about 1:30 a.m. She said Coy, who was already on the scene, told her that Hill had parked the SUV and was walking into a garage. She said she did not see any conversation between Coy and Hill.

Detweiler said that when she and Coy approached the garage, Hill was standing inside without entering the residence. When Coy asked Hill to exit the garage in a “normal tone of voice,” Hill did not verbally respond but began walking out, she said. 

According to the interview summary, Detweiler then told investigators that Hill walked toward her with a cellphone in his hand. “She did not observe any threats from Mr. Hill,” the summary reads. Detweiler said Hill then turned toward Coy and dropped his left hand. Detweiler told investigators she could not see his right side, but said she did not see a weapon. 

Soon after, Detweiler said, she heard Coy yell, “There’s a gun in his other hand, there’s a gun in his other hand!” followed by gunshots. Detweiler did not provide any information about what happened following the shooting. 

CBS News also obtained Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan’s administrative investigation of Coy, which was sent to the city’s director of public safety as part of a recommendation that Coy be fired. In the report, Quinlan noted that Coy “reacted with deep distress using profanity as he realized Mr. Hill was unarmed,” and said Coy could be heard on his body camera “becoming physically ill” in the aftermath of the shooting. 

Nevertheless, Quinlan wrote that “Officer Coy’s use of force was not objectively reasonable, he did not use trained techniques, did not use his BWC properly, and did not render medical aid.” 

“Officer Coy’s handling of this run is not a ‘rookie’ mistake as a result of negligence or inadvertence, but the decisions make (sic) and actions taken were reckless and deliberate,” Quinlan added.  

Quinlan also said, without elaborating, that “I have responded to many officer-involved shooting scenes and spoken with many officers following these critical incidents. There was something very distinct about the officer’s engagement following this critical incident that is difficult to describe for this letter.” 

Quinlan also included an excerpt of a letter he wrote in 2008 while serving as Coy’s patrol lieutenant, in which he wrote, “If sustained improvements are not fully realized, a decision whether Officer Coy is salvageable must follow. Should the interventions described above not produce the desired results, a shift towards termination would be warranted, as Officer Coy’s service to the Division of Police will have lost all future value.” Quinlan did not elaborate on what prompted the 2008 letter. 

Quinlan publicly announced his recommendation that Coy be fired on December 24. Director of Public Safety Ned Pettus Jr. fired Coy after a hearing on Monday. 

“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,” Pettus said. Coy did not attend the hearing, according to a representative from his police union.   

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Hill’s family, on Monday lauded the firing as the “correct decision.” He also released a statement Tuesday responding to Detweiler’s claim that Coy said Hill had a gun before he fired, writing that “The rampant police mentality to shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to a Black person is incontrovertible evidence that Black lives don’t matter to too many law enforcement officers.” 

“Although Officer Coy was sworn to protect and defend, he instead defaulted to taking another innocent Black life. Forget about second amendment rights, Black people don’t even have the right to carry a cell phone without facing a deadly risk,” Crump added.  

Although the administrative investigation into Coy has been resolved, several other investigations continue. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating Hill’s death, which a preliminary autopsy report ruled a homicide, and Quinlan is still investigating other officers present on the scene for failing to turn on their body cameras or render aid to Hill. 

The city’s assistant director of public safety said Detweiler has been reassigned to administrative duties while the investigation continues. 

Coy’s attorney told CBS News his team is hopeful the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Attorney General’s office “will complete a fair and thorough investigation that will be transparent and guided by the jurisprudence and principals (sic) outlined by the Supreme Court cases that guide use of force actions.” Coy has not released a public statement on the shooting. 

Nathalie Nieves and Erica Scott contributed reporting. 

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