A police officer who shot and killed a Black man holding a cell phone in Columbus early Tuesday did not activate his body camera beforehand, and dash cameras on the officers’ cruiser were also not activated, city officials said.
Because of an automatic “look back” feature on the body camera, the shooting was captured on video but without audio, said Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther and the city’s department of public safety.
As a result, there’s no way to hear what the 47-year-old man or the officer said during the interaction, Ginther said.
Neither the man nor the officer has been publicly identified.
Body camera footage from immediately after the shooting indicated “a delay in rendering of first-aid to the man,” the public safety department said in a news release.
“It is unacceptable to me and the community that officers did not turn on their cameras,” Ginther said during a news conference. Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan echoed the sentiment in a statement a few minutes later.
“The Division invested millions of dollars in these cameras for the express purpose of creating a video and audio record of these kinds of encounters,” Quinlan said. “They provide transparency and accountability, and protect the public, as well as officers, when the facts are in question.”
Officers activated their body cameras immediately after the shooting, Quinlan said.
Police aren’t releasing the victim’s name until his family is notified and until they have a chance to view the video of the shooting, Ginther said.
Police said officers were responding to a neighbor’s non-emergency call at 1:37 a.m. about a man sitting in a vehicle for a long time, repeatedly turning the vehicle on and off. Because it was a non-emergency 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 cell phone 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 officer was removed from duty and his gun and badge surrendered. A message was left with the union representing Columbus officers.
The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, as is city policy for shootings involving Columbus police. Ginther said he’s also asked the U.S. Attorney for Columbus to review the case for violations of the victim’s federal civil rights.
U.S. Attorney David DeVillers is also investigating the Dec. 4 shooting of Casey Goodson Jr. by a Franklin County sheriff’s deputy.