COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man while responding to a non-emergency call early Tuesday in the state’s largest city, and hours later a furious Mayor Andrew J. Ginther ordered the police chief to take the officer’s badge and gun.
“The community is exhausted,” Ginther said.
The officers involved in the incident did not turn on their body cameras until immediately after the shooting, but it was recorded because the camera captures 60 seconds of footage before it is turned on. It also appears there was a delay in rendering aid to the man, according to the city’s office of public safety.
The shooting comes less than three weeks after a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy shot Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, in the Northland area of Columbus. That shooting has prompted protests and demands for justice. The investigation into that shooting is being led by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, David DeVillers.
Police spokesman Sgt. James Fuqua said officers were dispatched at 1:37 a.m. to a non-emergency call on the city’s Northwest Side for a disturbance involving an SUV running on and off for an extended time. Fuqua said the complaint came from a neighbor.
At an afternoon press conference, Ginther and city Department of Public Safety officials revealed more details about the shooting.
When officers arrived on the scene, they found a home’s garage door open and a man inside.
The man, who was visiting someone at the home, walked toward officers with a cellphone in his left hand and his right hand not visible, according to a review by city officials of one of the responding officer’s body-worn camera footage.
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One officer fired his weapon, striking the 47-year-old Black man, who later died at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital.
A weapon was not recovered at the scene.
The man’s name has not been released, pending family notification. Columbus police officers involved in shootings are not identified for at least 24 hours after the shooting, per Division of Police policy.
“The body-worn camera footage also documents a delay in rendering of first-aid to the man,” according to a city Department of Public Safety release.
The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave. He will not return to work until he has been cleared by an independent psychologist, according to the release.
Ginther said he took the additional step of asking Police Chief Tom Quinlan to relieve the officer of duty — the equivalent of suspension — based on what he said he saw on the footage.
Quinlan has ordered the officer relieved of duty, requiring the officer to turn in his badge and gun, according to the city. This strips the officer in of all police powers pending the outcome of the criminal and internal investigation. The officer will be paid during this time, per union contract.
“Neither officer at the scene activated their body-worn cameras until immediately after the shooting. Because of a 60-second ‘look back’ function of the cameras, the shooting itself was captured on video,” the city release states. “However, the function does not record audio during that 60-second ‘look-back’ window, so there is no audio of the communications (between the victim and the officers) immediately preceding or during the actual shooting.”
Ginther said the fact that neither responding officer turned on his body camera until after the shooting “disturbed him greatly.”
“It is unacceptable to me and the community that officers did not turn on their cameras,” he said, citing the $5 million investment the city made in purchasing the cameras. “If you won’t turn on your body camera, you cannot work in our city.”
The bodycam footage that was recorded is expected to be released publicly Wednesday, and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation will conduct a “thorough, independent investigation,” Quinlan said in a statement.
“We promise that we will provide as much transparency as possible on our part, both with investigators and the public,” Quinlan said. “Our community deserves the facts. If evidence determines that laws or policies were violated, officers will be held accountable.”
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio officer fatally shoots unarmed Black man on non-emergency call