UPDATED: 2:30 p.m. ET —
Mourners gathered Tuesday in central Ohio for the funeral of Andre Hill two weeks after the unarmed Black man was ruthlessly shot and killed by a police officer. Friends, family, elected officials and local clergy sang the praises of Hill and recalled him as a loving and jovial person.
But tucked neatly among those kind words for Hill, 47, was the still-simmering pain from a loss of life from police violence that was completely preventable. Hill’s sister, Shawna Barnett, in particular, spoke in no uncertain terms while addressing law enforcement as she eulogized her brother during the service.
Barnett took to the podium to describe what has happened to her family since they learned not just that Hill was killed, but also how he was killed and by whom.
“As a people, we should not have to have our loved ones sacrificed at the hands of evil and violence just to be even heard, looked at or even considered as equals. We shouldn’t have to scream, holler, march, protest or beg to be treated humanely and cordially as human beings,” she said to warm applause of encouragement. “We shouldn’t have to step out every day in fear, not knowing or thinking that we’ll never return to see our loved ones or they won’t return to us.”
Referring to police as “others,” Barnett continued.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to have our kids out while others out there roam the streets freely as they want, doing as they please, say as they please and act like they’re without spot or blemish when yet they are the real perpetrators of violence and evil and they’re clothed under the guise of peace, trust and honesty and they’re killing us off at a constant rate with no repercussions whatsoever,” she emphasized as the applause got louder.
In a nod to the circumstances under which Hill came to encounter his killer, Barnett addressed the deadly consequences of calling the police on a Black man for even the smallest of possible infractions — like the purported car idling in the street that prompted a neighbor to call 3-11 on Hill.
“Now we know – or we feel – that we can’t even call 3-11, a non-emergency number, because we can’t trust the badge that shows up. And it’s sad to say you can feel safer in the streets out here and take your chance than you can calling 9-11 or 3-11 – and that’s bad,” she lamented. “The badge that’s worn is supposed to represent security, protection and help, not race to kill and pour the blood of innocent lives taken due to racist, incompetent and cowardly representatives that wear them.”
Barnett then echoed calls for legislation in her brother’s name to be enacted to make sure police are held accountable for not activating their body cameras during shootings and not administering medical aid to their victims — two things that happened to Hill when the police killed him.
“So yes,” Barnett continued, “we do need Andre’s Law to be in effect so that other families won’t have to endure what we have to.”
Barnett said “we need change right now” before ending with sm emotional words for her brother: “Andre, I will forever love you, and when God says so, I’ll see you on the other side.”
Hill was killed on Dec. 22 within seconds of an officer seeing him. He was only armed with a cellphone.
Officiated by Bishop Timothy Clarke, Hill’s funeral began at 11 a.m. local time and included a eulogy by the Rev. Al Sharpton along with a speech from civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Hill’s family.
Ohio Rep. Joyce Beatty spoke, as well.
Hill was all but executed when Columbus Police Officer Adam Coy saw him emerge from a garage holding a glowing cellphone during the early morning hours. Coy shot him nearly on sight and then failed to render any medical aid to him in the crucial minutes after the shooting.
That last part was confirmed last week after new video footage confirmed that Hill laid on the ground for about 10 minutes before officers attempted chest compressions. The officers at the scene were prompted to do so by a supervising officer who inquired if any aid was given to Hill. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Coy was fired on Dec. 28. He and his partner were reprimanded for turning their cameras off prior to the shooting, then switching them on directly after the shooting. Initial footage of the shooting was captured from Coy’s camera using a “look back” feature which recorded about 60 seconds of footage without any audio prior to the time the camera was activated.
A preliminary autopsy revealed last week that Hill’s method of death is homicide.
“It’s outrageous and unconscionable that an officer responding to a non-emergency call would default to concluding that Andre Hill was a threat and fire multiple, deadly rounds into him, when Andre was only holding a cell phone,” Crump tweeted last week in response to the coroner’s announcement.
Hill’s police killing followed the fatal police shooting of Casey Goodson Jr., who was shot in the back in Columbus on Dec. 4 when cops purportedly mistook the sandwiches he was holding for a gun.
To watch a Hill’s funeral streamed online, go to the First Church of God website by clicking here.