The family of an unarmed Black man shot dead by a police officer in Ohio is demanding full accountability including a conviction following a murder indictment returned by a grand jury.
Andre Hill was killed by then-Columbus Police Officer Adam Coy in December within seconds of the cop seeing the 47-year-old man. The indictment was handed down Wednesday, prompting the first glimmer of hope that Hill’s family has had since the shooting. But they cautioned during a press conference Thursday morning that they wouldn’t rest until they secured Coy’s complete accountability.
Saying that Coy “outright murdered my brother,” Hill’s sister, Shawna Barnett, said she didn’t want him to have died in vain.
“We don’t want any excuses,” Barnett said. “We want Adam Coy convicted of all charges.”
To be precise, those charges are for murder, felonious assault and dereliction of duty for failure to inform his fellow officer that he felt threatened. Barnett challenged the prosecution’s office to “keep that same energy going” as the case moves forward.
Hill’s brother, Alvin Hill, credited an “open-minded, non-biased” grand jury for returning the indictments and stressed that this particular case was not necessarily racial in nature.
“This is not a Black or white issue,” Alvin Hill said. “This is a people issue.”
He appealed for people to put themselves in his family’s place and recognized that Coy does not represent all police officers, who he said “did not deserve this,” either.
Last of the family to speak, Hill’s daughter expressed both relief and anxiousness after learning about the indictments. Carissa Hill found significance in the indictments coming at the beginning of Black History Month and marveled at how the justice system was actually working in their favor.
“This is what’s supposed to happen, so I’m just glad this is happening,” Carissa said, referring to Coy’s swift firing followed by the indictments.
The mother to Hill’s three grandchildren admitted, however, that it will be “a long journey” on the road to achieving justice for her father.
Attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Hill’s family, said he was “relieved” at the indictments but urged caution when citing multiple past similar cases that ended with acquittals, or no charges at all.
Crump reminded attendees that from Walter Scott in South Carolina to Terence Crutcher in Oklahoma to Tamir Rice, who was killed in the same state where Hill died, none of those police officers involved ever served a second of prison time for the deaths.
“So we are relieved this morning with the indictments, but we are not satisfied because we know an indictment does not mean convicted,” Crump said before adding later: “We don’t take these things for granted at all.”
Coy’s indictment was the latest fallout for the Columbus Police Department following 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 the unarmed Black man was holding for a gun. Goodson was shot by officers who were investigating another incident as he entered his grandmother’s home.
The combination prompted the now-former Columbus police chief to get demoted last week.
Thomas Quinlan had been the chief of police since 2019 when he was chosen over Perry Tarrant, a former assistant police chief in Seattle, who is Black.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced he would move forward with appointing members to the city’s first Civilian Review Board, which will oversee the police department. The board was created after community members passed the votes in November.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation. Ginther asked U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers to review the case for civil rights violations.