An Ohio grand jury on Wednesday indicted a former Columbus police officer in the fatal shooting of a Black man who was at the garage of a home where he was a guest, the state attorney general said.
Adam Coy, a 19-year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police, was indicted on murder in the commission of a felony and other charges and was arrested Wednesday, Attorney General Dave Yost said.
Coy fatally shot Andre Maurice Hill, 47, on Dec. 22 after responding to a call that a person in a vehicle had been turning the engine on and off.
Coy said he thought he saw a gun in Hill's hand, Yost said, but no weapon was found. Coy's attorney said the now-former officer believed keys on a ring were a revolver.
"Let me be clear that I believe the evidence in this case supports the indictment," Yost said. "And my office will vigorously prosecute this case."
The fatal shooting sparked outrage, and Coy was fired from the Columbus police force.
Coy's attorney, Mark Collins, said that the indictment was expected. Collins said that Coy saw keys in Hall's hand and believed them to be a weapon.
"When he saw the right hand come toward him, he thought there was a silver revolver," Collins said.
He said Supreme Court rulings provide for defenses for officers in shootings.
"An officer can be mistaken about the threat, and that's justified if that mistake was an honest belief and was reasonable," Collins said.
Collins said Coy will plead not guilty.
The officer failed to turn on his body camera prior to shooting Hill and failed to provide medical assistance, the police chief said in recommending that Coy be fired.
Hill was a guest of the homeowner and had not committed a crime when two officers approached the garage he was standing in around 1:30 a.m. Both officers who interacted with Hill failed to activate their body-worn cameras until immediately after the shooting, a violation of department protocol.
A “look back” feature on the department’s camera was able to capture the 60 seconds before the camera turned on, but did not record audio.
The video shows Coy using his flashlight as he walked up the driveway. Hill then walks toward the officers while holding his cellphone when the officer fired his weapon. Hill’s other hand couldn’t be seen clearly.
Body camera footage then showed officers failing to render aid or medical assistance for Hill as he lay on the ground for several minutes following the shooting, another violation of policy.
Collins said that there had been other interactions between Coy and Hill, and the body camera footage only shows a fraction of what occurred.
Hill was struck four times, Yost's office said. A special prosecution section of the state attorney's general office was appointed by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the case.
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The grand jury indicted Coy on murder in the commission of a felony — the felony being felonious assault; felonious assault; and two counts of dereliction of duty, Yost said.
The dereliction of duty counts stem from Coy allegedly failing to turn on his body camera, and for allegedly failing to tell his fellow officer that he believed Hill presented a danger, Yost said.
The grand jury did not indict Coy on a charge of purposeful murder.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, who had demanded Coy's firing, tweeted his thanks to the grand jury.
"The indictment does not lessen the pain of his tragic death for Mr. Hill's loved ones, but it is a step towards justice," Ginther wrote.