December 24 (Reuters) – Police in Columbus, Ohio, said they relieved an officer of duty on Tuesday after he fatally shot an unarmed Black man, the city’s second law enforcement shooting death of an African-American man in the past month.
The latest incident unfolded in the early hours of Tuesday after officers responded to a non-emergency complaint about a man turning a car on and off for an extended period, Columbus police said in a statement.
Shortly after the officers arrived, a man who had been inside a garage approached them on foot with his left hand holding a cellphone and his right hand not visible, police said, citing video from a body-worn camera.
At that point, Officer Adam Coy shot the man, Andre Maurice Hill, 47, who died later at a hospital, they said.
The incident was the latest in a spate of killings of African Americans by police in the United States this year that have triggered waves of protests over racial injustice and brutality by law enforcement.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrated peacefully in downtown Columbus on Dec. 11 after a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy shot and killed Casey Christopher Goodson, 23, outside his home on Dec. 4.
Federal authorities have launched an investigation into Goodson’s killing.
In Tuesday’s shooting, police said Hill had been visiting someone at the house where he was spotted, and that no weapon was found at the scene.
“This is a tragedy on many levels,” Columbus police Chief Thomas Quinlan said in a statement. “Most importantly, a life has been lost.”
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said on Twitter that it was “unacceptable” for the officers not to have turned on their cameras.
Quinlan said he relieved Coy, a 19-year veteran, requiring him to turn in his badge and gun, pending the outcome of an internal review and an investigation by state authorities.
State Attorney General Dave Yost issued a statement on Wednesday promising “a complete, independent and expert investigation,” and asked anyone with information about the case to contact his office.
Although neither officer activated body cameras until just after the shooting, police said it was captured on video, but not audio, because of a 60-second “look-back” function.