COLUMBUS, Ohio — The state investigation into the fatal shooting by Columbus police of a Black man holding a cellphone must seek “the whole truth,” the Ohio attorney general said Wednesday.
Republican Attorney General Dave Yost promised a “complete, independent and expert investigation” of the shooting early Tuesday. The state Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which falls under the attorney general’s office, conducts probes of Columbus police shootings under an arrangement with the city.
“What we have now is an incomplete record. We must allow the record to be completed and the evidence to be gathered,” Yost said. “Only the truth — the whole truth and nothing else — will result in justice.”
Mayor Andrew Ginther and Police Chief Thomas Quinlan have both expressed anger that the officer did not activate his body camera beforehand. Because of an automatic 60-second “look back” feature on the body camera, the shooting was captured on video but without audio.
Neither the man nor the officer has been publicly identified. The officer was relieved of duty, ordered to turn in his gun and badge and stripped of police powers pending the outcome of investigations into the shooting. By union contract, the officer will still be paid.
Police said officers were responding to a neighbour’s nonemergency call after 1:30 a.m. about a man sitting in a vehicle for a long time, repeatedly turning the vehicle on and off. Because it was a nonemergency call, the cruiser dash cam wasn’t activated.
On arrival, officers arrived to find a garage door open and a man inside.
In the body camera video, “the man walked toward the officer with a cellphone in his left hand,” police said. “His right hand was not visible.”
One officer fired and hit the man, who died just under an hour later at a local hospital. There was no weapon recovered at the scene, police said.
The man was visiting someone at the home at the time, police said.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Columbus has agreed to review the case for possible federal civil rights violations once the state completes its investigation.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins, The Associated Press