COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Mayor Andrew Ginther said Tuesday afternoon that he is calling for a Columbus police officer who was involved in an overnight shooting that left an unarmed Black man dead to be relieved of duty.
Ginther said the officer was wearing a body camera but that he did not turn it on until after the shooting, which only preserves the previous 60 seconds of video without sound.
“It is unacceptable, to me and the community, that the officers did not turn on their cameras,” Ginther said. “Let me be clear: If you’re not going to turn on your body-worn camera, you cannot serve and protect the people of Columbus.
“I have asked Chief [Thomas] Quinlan to remove the officer involved of duty and turn in his badge and gun.”
A statement from Columbus police said the “look back” feature on the body camera did capture the shooting.
Neither the officer nor the victim has yet to be named, but Ginther said that information, along with the body camera footage, is expected to be released in the next 24 hours, after next of kin has been notified. The body camera footage will first be shared with family.
“I am deeply sadden, frustrated, angry, demanding answers of what happened in our community earlier this morning,” Ginther said. “I am committed to transparency and accountability in our Division of Police.”
Ginther said the officer is still receiving pay due to his contract. A police spokesperson said the process to relieve the officer of duty was underway but that that did not mean the person was fired. That would not happen until after a criminal investigation is complete.
Columbus police say officers were dispatched at 1:37 a.m. after a non-emergency call from a neighbor in the 1000 block of Oberlin Drive on the Northwest Side. The person reported a man sitting in an SUV, turning the vehicle on and off. When police arrived, they found an open garage and a man inside.
Body-camera footage showed the man walked toward the officer with a phone in his left hand and his right hand not visible. The officer fired his weapon, striking the man. He was pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. at Riverside Methodist Hospital. The victim’s age was listed as 47 years old.
Preliminary investigation indicates the victim was visiting the home. A weapon was not recovered at the scene.
A representative of the Fraternal Order of Police declined to comment until more information is available.
The shooting is the second this month by a law enforcement officer of a Black man, after Casey Goodson Jr. was shot and killed by a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy on Dec. 4. That shooting took place in Columbus city limits as the deputy, Jason Meade, was coming off an assignment with the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Goodson’s death sparked days of peaceful protests. His family has called for Meade, who is white, to be relieved of duty. A joint investigation between Columbus police and the FBI is continuing to look into Goodson’s death.
The investigation into Tuesday’s shooting is being led by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The BCI refused to investigate Goodson’s shooting after it was not immediately contacted.
“We know that BCI will conduct a thorough, independent investigation,” Quinlan said. “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.”
U.S. Attorney David DeVillers said his office will review the results of the BCI investigation to determine whether there were possible federal civil-rights violations.