Andre Hill’s Family Pleased, But Not Satisfied With Former Columbus Police Officer’s Indictment
The family of Andre Hill said Thursday they are "relieved" with the indictment of former Columbus Police Officer Adam Coy, but said they won’t be satisfied until he is convicted.
“The reason they are not satisfied is because we know, based on what has happened before in America that when a white police officer kills a Black person that does not guarantee a conviction," said Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump.
Crump held a press conference with Hill’s family Thursday at the Beze Community Center where he was joined by Hill’s daughter, Karissa Hill.
“Karissa was able to smile and tell her children it’s going to be a good day for the first time in a long time,” Crump said.
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump with Andre Hill's daughter, Karissa Hill. Pete Grieve/Spectrum News 1
Hill, 47, was fatally shot by Coy after dropping off a Christmas gift at a friend's home on Dec. 22, officials said.
“After a brief interaction with the man, Andre Hill, Officer Coy stated that he saw, or thought he saw, a gun in Hill’s right hand and fired his service weapon, killing Hill,” said Attorney General Dave Yost. “No weapon was found on the scene.”
Crump and his co-counsel Michael Wright said Coy’s legal team is scrambling to come up with defenses for their client, and said claims from Coy’s side that he mistook a silver key chain in Hill’s hand for a revolver do not justify the shooting.
Wright and Crump did not say if they agree that Coy was holding a silver keychain when he was shot.
Hill was holding a cell phone in his left hand, according to documents. After Hill was shot multiple times, the officers at the scene failed to render medical aid for 10 minutes.
On Tuesday, Coy was indicted on charges of murder, felonious assault, and two charges of dereliction of duty. He was arrested at his attorney's office and will have his initial court appearance Thursday, officials said. Coy will be arraigned in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas criminal division.
President Keith Ferrell of Capital City Lodge No. 9 Fraternal Order of Police said in a statement Wednesday Coy will have the opportunity to defend himself.
"A jury of independent civilians has reviewed facts of the shooting case involving former officer Coy. They have made the decision to indict him based on this and he will have the ability to present the facts on his behalf at a trial just like any other citizen. At that time, we will see all the facts for the first time with the public as the process plays out,” Ferrell said.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said indictment was the right decision.
“The community was outraged by the killing of Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, by law enforcement. The indictment does not lessen the pain of his tragic death for Mr. Hill’s loved ones, but it is a step towards justice. I thank the grand jury for their service," Ginther said.
Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty agreed with Ginther, saying it's a step in the right direction.
Civil Rights Attorney Ben Crump. Pete Grieve/Spectrum News 1
“The indictment of Adam Coy is but the first step in securing justice for Andre Hill. I, along with his family, friends, and the entire community, await the trial and ultimate conviction of Mr. Coy," Beatty said.
Hill's death has prompted changes in the department and the city. Shortly after Coy was terminated, former Columbus Division of Police Thomas Quinlan agreed to resign at Ginther's request after expressing concern that Quinlan wouldn't make the changes the city needed to see.
"Columbus residents have lost faith in him and in Division’s ability to change on its own. Chief Quinlan understood. He agreed to step back, so the city can move forward," Ginther said.
Deputy Chief Mike Woods was named interim chief until a replacement is found.
The Columbus City Council also passed Andre's Law Monday night, mandating officers to turn on their body cameras in any situation. Coy, along with another officer at the scene, failed to turn on their body cameras. Although rollback footage caught what happened, there is no audio. The law also requires officers to get medical aid for any use of force case that involves injury or worse, and it will create disciplinary actions for officers who fail to turn on body cameras.
Ginther also plans to invest $4.5 million to improve the quality of body-worn cameras in Columbus. Gov. Mike DeWine also plans to invest $10 million in police cameras.
“We are encouraged by the decision of the grand jury to hold Office Coy accountable for his reckless action, resulting in the tragic death of Andre Hill. Officer Coy claimed, ‘there’s a gun in his other hand,’ while Andre clearly held a phone. Though nothing will bring back Andre’s life and relieve his family’s grief, this is an important step toward justice," said Crump.
Yost said the evidence strongly supports the charges, and his office plans to prosecute.
Murder indictments for officers are rare, and Crump said the family was “grateful” by the grand jury’s decision because in other high profile cases of police killing Black men that has not always been the outcome, he said.
“Karissa, he’s in jail now, the person who killed your father, and that’s a big step forward for the history of Ohio,” Crump said.
Crump said Coy should be incarcerated for the “unnecessary and senseless” killing, and promised he would stay vigilant and focused on the case until Coy is convicted.
Wright said the family was feeling “cautiously optimistic,” but understands that this is just the first step. “We want a conviction, and we want this officer to be incarcerated,” Wright said.
Alvin Williamson said he hopes his brother’s death is an opportunity for the community to reflect and change.
“I'm just wishing that a lot of people, everybody, Black and white citizens rein this tragedy home with you, and understand how you would feel if it was your loved one. It's not a black and white issue, this is a people issue. It takes all of us to actually dissect the problems.”
He said prosecutors should approach Coy’s case with the same fervor that Black men who are prosecuted face.
“I hope you treat a murdering police officer the same way, when you have actual evidence that you can press a button and see it all yourself. It's nothing to be proven,” he said.
Karissa Hill said Coy “messed with the wrong family.” She said she smiled for the first time since the shooting when she got a call informing her of the indictment.
“This family is not backing down, we're not letting loose. We are on it. And we are going to make sure that all four convictions happen. That's what we want and that's what we're shooting for. I wish we could have added a couple more charges but I'm not going to get into that,” she said.
Hill said it is meaningful to her the indictment came during Black History Month.
“On the first of Black History Month, my dad got a law in his name, and I'm just so grateful for that, and the third day, two days later, the officer is being arrested,” she said. “Black History Month is moving for me, and I just pray that it keeps on moving.”