Former Ohio Police Officer Charged With Murder in Fatally Shooting Unarmed Black Man Andre Hill

People hold shields spelling Andre Hill’s name as they participate in a call to action “White People Stop Calling the Cops on Black People” protest hosted by Showing Up for Racial Justice Columbus(SURJ) in front of the house of the neighbor who called the police on Andre Hill the night he was shot and killed in Columbus, Ohio on December 28, 2020.
People hold shields spelling Andre Hill’s name as they participate in a call to action “White People Stop Calling the Cops on Black People” protest hosted by Showing Up for Racial Justice Columbus(SURJ) in front of the house of the neighbor who called the police on Andre Hill the night he was shot and killed in Columbus, Ohio on December 28, 2020.
Photo: Stephen Zenner (Getty Images)

If we’ve learned anything in our fight against police violence and systemic racism in our justice system, it’s that it is damn hard to hold cops who kill unarmed Black people accountable for their crimes. Even when they’re charged in connection with these shootings the charge is almost never murder.

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I personally believe that the racial reckoning sparked by nationwide anti-racism protests made it harder for the system to sweep the killings of Black people by trigger-happy or otherwise brutal police officers under the rug. I think that months of constant protests, civil unrest and the promise that there will be no peace without justice has forced the system to think twice before making the deeds of murderous police officers go away without bringing them to account. Or maybe the truth is that sometimes the actions of cops are so egregious and indefensible that it’s simply impossible not to indict them.

In late December, The Root reported that now-former Columbus, Ohio, police officer Adam Coy fatally shot 47-year-old Black man, Andre Hill. Coy had responded to a call about an SUV left running on the street. While canvassing the area, Coy spotted Hill in the open garage of someone Hill was visiting. In body camera footage, Hill can be seen walking towards Coy and a second officer with his cell phone raised high in the air with the screen illuminated and facing the officers. Coy opened fire for seemingly no reason whatsoever and killed Hill. On Wednesday, Coy was arrested and indicted on multiple charges including murder.

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The Washington Post reports that Coy—who was fired not for killing an unarmed man, but for failing to turn on his body camera before the shooting started and failing to provide medical assistance after—has been charged with murder in the commission of a felony, felonious assault and two counts of dereliction of duty. The charges came after Franklin County grand jury proceedings in which Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost acted as the special prosecutor.

From the Post:

“Truth is the best friend of justice, and the grand jury here found the truth,” Yost said. “Andre Hill should not be dead.”

The two counts of dereliction of duty stem from Coy’s failing to turn on his body camera and failing to inform fellow officers that he thought Hill presented a danger, Yost said. The grand jury was instructed on purposeful murder, according to Yost, but issued a no bill, meaning the grand jury felt there was not enough evidence to indict Coy on that charge.

Coy, a 19-year veteran of the police department, was arrested Wednesday night at his attorney’s office, Yost said.

Coy’s attorney, Mark Collins, said his client will enter a plea of not guilty. Coy has complied with the investigation, providing a written statement and participating in an interview with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Collins said in an interview.

Citing a Supreme Court ruling in Graham v. Connor that officers can use force if they have an “objectively reasonable” belief of a threat, Collins said his client felt threatened by Hill because he mistook a silver key ring in Hill’s hand for a revolver.

“That’s why he stepped back and yelled ‘gun, gun, gun’ and shot,” Collins said. “He was mistaken.”

You know, I understand that “I was in fear for my life” is probably a whole chapter in the police guide to getting away with murder, but to argue that Coy was simply “mistaken” after he yelled “gun” at a key ring and took a person’s life is just...man, I literally don’t know how to finish this sentence.

Mind you, the second officer called to the scene on Dec. 22, Amy Detwiler, won’t even back that caucasity-filled load of blue nonsense.

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Even if it was a plausible defense to say that a trained 19-year police veteran was so shaken by literally anything silver and shiny that he killed a civilian, it wouldn’t explain why after the shots were fired Coy was still yelling at Hill to “put your fucking hands out to the side” and to “roll on your stomach, now,” instead of immediately rendering aid. Hell, he even stopped Detwiler from helping Hill telling her, “Don’t get fucking close, I can’t see his hand.”

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Anyway, Coy is charged with murder and now we all just have to hold our breath in hopes that a conviction follows. After all, charges don’t equal justice, and anything less than justice won’t produce peace.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

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