COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A local group of religious leaders is demanding that Mayor Andrew Ginther listen to their calls for change within the Columbus Division of Police.
ARC, the Area Religious Coalition, sent a letter to Ginther on Wednesday, calling not just for the firing of Officer Adam Coy — who shot an unarmed Black man early Tuesday — but for reform of the entire department and the removal of Chief Thomas Quinlan.
“Two Black men have been gunned down by law enforcement on the streets of Columbus, you know the nation is watching, and yet we still seem to be stumbling around,” ARC co-facilitator Dr. Tim Ahrens said. “What do you believe needs to happen now? Well, for one thing, we think it’s time for him to remove Chief Quinlan. We happen to believe that it was the wrong choice for the leader.”
Ahrens said that since Quinlan took office things have gotten worse, including failure to enforce requirements for body cameras. Coy only switched on his body camera after he shot Andre’ Hill, a move that preserved the previous 60 seconds of video with no audio via a “look-back” feature.
“If you were in a workplace where those who run the workplace say the most important thing you are to do is this, and you don’t do that, you defy that, to me that’s a fireable offense, period.”
Ginther called Wednesday for Coy to be terminated from the force for not properly using his body camera and also for not immediately offering medical assistance to Hill. That process will be handled by Public Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr.
“White people see a person of color and see that as a problem and get themselves in a defensive posture, so much so that in an officer’s case he decides to become offensive against the person simply because of the color of his skin,” Ahrens said. “There is no other justification, no other rationalization.”
Ahrens says with or without the support of City Hall, ARC is committed to working for change. Hill’s death was the second in December of a Black man by a law enforcement officer, after Casey Goodson Jr. was shot by a Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy on Dec. 4. Family say Goodson was returning home with subs when he was shot.
“My friends who are African American feel that it is dangerous for their children to be out, to go to Subway to bring something back for their grandmother, for heaven’s sake,” he said. “They feel that their lives are in danger, simply to step out of their house.”
Ahrens said Ginther worked with ARC until the ministers publicly criticized him last spring, and he has shut them out ever since.
Ginther and Quinlan did not respond to requests for comment.