Watch a previous NBC4 report on the fatal shooting in the video player above.
SWAT Gold Team members James Ashenhurst, Robert Cutshall and Matthew Liford will face no charges for shooting Bret Andrews, 46, in the parking lot of a Home Depot at 1680 Stringtown Road, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed Friday. The incident occurred while the officers were attempting to serve an arrest warrant at about 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 11.
Andrews was pronounced dead at Grant Medical Center about 30 minutes later, and had an outstanding arrest warrant for a felony rape charge filed in Athens County Municipal Court. He allegedly raped a minor — who was under the age of 13 — in October 2021, according to court documents.
Andrews fled Athens after being accused of rape, in a message saying “he feared spending the rest of his life in prison,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in December 2022.
Police said the SWAT team used multiple cruisers to surround the car Andrews was inside to prevent him from escaping, and a front cruiser activated its blue and red lights. SWAT team members got out of their cars and then yelled, “Get your hands up,” at Andrews. Multiple officers then said they saw him “reaching.”
About one second after Liford — who was behind the suspect’s car — was heard saying Andrews was reaching for something in his bodycam video, another officer fired the first shot, and Liford followed suit with an additional three shots.
Columbus police only released body camera footage from Cutshall — the officer standing on the driver’s side in front of Andrews’ car and directly facing him — showing the moments after the shooting. However, multiple bullet holes are visible in the car’s front windshield, and Cutshall was still pointing his gun directly at Andrews in the released video.
“He still has the gun next to his right hand,” Cutshall said.
Ashenhurst — who was also in front of Andrews’ car on the passenger side — then kicked out the glass in the passenger side window before opening the door. He removed what Cutshall said was a gun, and Columbus police later confirmed it as a firearm.
The video showed two officers remove Andrews from the car. Another officer then placed the driver of the car, who Columbus police said was removed safely and without injury, in handcuffs. Staff at Grant Medical Center pronounced Andrews dead around 8:53 p.m.
The incident on Feb. 11 was the second time in less than a week that a Columbus police officer shot a person. The previous Sunday, Officer Joshua Ohlinger shot 66-year-old Michael Cleveland during a traffic stop on the South Side.
Sarah Szilagy contributed to this report.