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Ohio police officer kills Black man while body camera wasn’t on, mayor says

Andrew Cuomo

A Columbus, Ohio, police officer who shot and killed a Black man on Tuesday didn’t have his body camera turned on at the time, Mayor Andrew Ginther said.

The officer has been suspended pending an investigation, Ginther said at a news conference.

The mayor said he was “greatly” disturbed that the officer did not turn on the body camera until after the shooting.

“A function of the technology (body cameras) provides a 60-second look back,” Ginther said, but does not record audio.

So, investigators have video of the shooting but no sound recording of what was said, the mayor said.

According to a Columbus Department of Public Safety news release, police responded to a non-emergency call shortly after 1:37 a.m. Tuesday. The caller reported that a man had been sitting in his SUV for an extended period, repeatedly turning his engine on and off.

When police arrived at the home on the city’s northwest side, they found a garage door open and a man inside, city officials said. The 60-second body camera look back shows the man walking toward the officer with a cell phone in his left hand, the release said. His right hand was not visible.

One officer fired his weapon, officials said, striking a 47-year-old man, who died at the hospital just before 2:30 a.m.

The preliminary investigation indicates the man was visiting someone at the home, officials said. A weapon was not recovered at the scene.

The officers turned on their cameras immediately after the shooting, and that footage shows a delay in rendering aid to the man.

Because the officers were not responding to an emergency, they were not running their car’s siren and lights, officials said, so their cruiser’s dashboard camera was not activated at any time during the response.

Mayor Ginther said the city is giving the deceased man’s family an opportunity to see the body camera video before it is released to the media. He expects the family to review the footage Wednesday.

The shooting comes on the heels of the December 4 fatal shooting in Columbus of Casey Goodson, a 23-year-old Black man with no criminal background, by a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy.

Three discrimination lawsuits have also been filed in Columbus in recent months by current or former Black officers. The City Council last month voted to approve a $475,000 payment in a fourth brought by an officer who said he faced retaliation after reporting racist behavior and misconduct of a White police sergeant.

“The city is exhausted,” Ginther said.

Columbus has invested more than $5 million to outfit its officers with body cameras, according to the mayor.

A visibly frustrated Ginther said he will not tolerate officers who do not turn their cameras on.

“If you’re not going to turn on your body-worn camera, you cannot serve and protect the people of Columbus,” Ginther said.

The investigation is being handled by the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and the Columbus division of police is fully cooperating, the mayor said.

Under an agreement reached this summer, the BCI will conduct an outside, independent investigation of all officer-involved shootings involving deadly force by Columbus police officers.

“This is a tragedy on many levels,” said police Chief Thomas Quinlan in a statement. “Most importantly, a life has been lost. That must be our focus going forward. We know that BCI will conduct a thorough, independent investigation. We promise that we will provide as much transparency as possible on our part, both with investigators and the public.

“Our community deserves the facts. If evidence determines that laws or policies were violated, officers will be held accountable.”

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