An Ohio police officer has been relieved of his duties and is being investigated after fatally shooting an unarmed Black man in an incident during which he didn’t have his body camera turned on.
The Columbus Division of Police said a statement that 47-year-old Maurice Hill was shot by officer Adam Coy just before 2 a.m. on Tuesday. A separate statement said Hill was fatally shot while holding a mobile phone inside a friend’s open garage.
The shooting comes just weeks after another fatal police shooting in Columbus, in which 23-year-old Casey Goodson Jr. was killed by an officer as he entered his home.
The officers at the scene when Hill was shot had not turned their body cameras on until after the incident, but a 60-second look-back feature on the camera caught footage of what happened. The feature does not record audio, so it’s unclear what was said by police and Hill in the lead up to the shooting.
According to the statement from police, officers were initially dispatched to the scene following a call from a neighbor who reported seeing a man repeatedly turn his vehicle on and off.
Police said a review of the incident showed that officers arrived on scene to find Hill inside his friend’s open garage.
They were not flashing their lights or sirens when they arrived on scene because the call was considered a non-emergency.
Body camera look-back footage shows Hill walking toward police with a phone in one hand and his right hand not visible, police said.
As he walked toward the police, Coy fired his gun at the man, fatally striking him.
Body camera footage shows there was a delay in providing medical assistance to the man, police said, adding that there was no weapon recovered at the scene.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are investigating the incident. Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther called Coy’s decision not to turn his body camera on earlier “unacceptable.”
“This morning we learned of the killing of another Black man at the hands of law enforcement. Our community is still raw and exhausted from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and, most recently, Casey Goodson, Jr., right here in Columbus,” he said on Twitter. “The officer involved has been relieved of duty, requiring him to turn in his badge and gun, stripping him of police powers pending the outcome of the criminal and internal investigations.”
Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan called the incident a “tragedy on many levels.”
“Most importantly a life has been lost,” he said in a statement. “That must be our focus going forward. We know that BCI will conduct a thorough, independent investigation. We promise that we will provide as much transparency as possible on our part, both with investigators and the public. Our community deserves the facts. If evidence determines that laws or policies were violated, officers will be held accountable.”