On December 22, 2020, 47-year-old Andre Hill was shot and killed in Columbus, Ohio, by former Officer Adam Coy, who has since been charged with murder in Hill’s death. Coy’s body camera was turned off when he shot Hill, who was standing in a garage armed with nothing but a cellphone in an incident where even the second officer to arrive at the scene said she saw no reason for Coy to open fire. That officer’s body camera was also turned off. The only reason there’s video footage of the shooting at all is because the bodycam devices used by the two officers have a function that records 60 seconds of “look back” footage even when the cameras are off.
Now, Hill’s death has prompted the proposal of a new law that would require officers to produce body camera footage when accused of misconduct and especially in situations where someone has been killed.
NBC 4 reports that House Bill 367 was introduced last Thursday by state Rep. Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus).
“There needs to be requirements in place that serve as proactive versus reactive measures when it comes to potential officer-involved misconduct,” Jarrells said in a statement. “It is important to be able to provide transparency for the families who are affected by officer-involved shootings so that everyone is held accountable.”
Jarrells and Franklin County Commissioner Erica C. Crawley worked with numerous law enforcement agencies and members of the Columbus community in drafting the legislation, according to the statement.
Here’s what the bill would require as reported by NBC:
- If a law enforcement agency receives a complaint regarding alleged misconduct by an officer, the agency must publicly release all unedited video and recordings of the alleged incident within 21 days of receiving the complaint.
- If the recorded alleged incident involves an individual’s death, the law enforcement agency shall provide the recording to the person’s spouse, parent, legal guardian, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, significant other, or legal representative upon request.
- Require every law enforcement agency in Ohio, by July 1, 2023, to provide body cameras to each officer in the agency (including correctional officers).
- Limit the circumstances in which an officer may turn off the body camera (i.e. when recording personal information not pertinent to a case; during an extended period of inactivity; during administrative, tactical, or management discussions).
- If an officer fails to turn on their body camera or dashboard camera, or tampers with any portion of the recording, it is inferred that the missing recording would have demonstrated misconduct by the officer.
It’s worth mentioning that this is the second piece of legislation to come in the wake of Hill’s death. In February, Columbus City Council unanimously approved “Andre’s Law,” which requires Columbus police officers to keep their body cameras on while in the line of duty and render first aid immediately after a use of force incident—because not only is Coy accused of failing to provide aid after shooting Hill, but video footage shows he instructed the second officer not to go near Hill because Coy claimed he still couldn’t see both of his hands while he was lying on the ground shot.
Laws like these are necessary and should be implemented across the country. Unfortunately, they tend to only be proposed after someone has senselessly lost their life.