News December 24, 2020 at 10:01 am

Ohio cop who fatally shot unarmed Black man relieved of duty for not turning on bodycam prior to incident

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey December 24, 2020 at 10:01 am

December 24, 2020 at 10:01 am | News

An Ohio cop who failed to turn on his body camera prior to shooting an unarmed Black man has been relieved of his duty -- Photo Credit: Raymond Wambsgans

Two Ohio police officers, who responded to an alleged disturbance at an address and ended up fatally shooting an unarmed Black man, did not turn their body cameras on at the time of the incident, prompting Mayor Andrew Ginther to call for the officer who fired the gun to be terminated.

Ginther expressed his dissatisfaction over the fact the officers failed to activate their cameras prior to responding to the incident, and labeled it as “unacceptable” on their part, NBC News reported.

“So let me be clear, if you’re not going to turn on your body-worn camera, you cannot serve and protect the people of Columbus,” he said. “I have asked Chief Quinlan to remove the officer involved of duty and turn in his badge and gun.”

The incident occurred in the early hours of Tuesday after the two officers – who are yet to be named – responded to a disturbance report of a running vehicle. When they got to the location, they met the 47-year-old victim, who is also yet to be named, in a garage.

Per body camera footage, the victim approached one of the officers with a cell phone in his left hand, but the police said his right hand wasn’t visible, NBC News reported. One of the officers subsequently opened fire on the man. He later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital. After the shooting, officials also said the officers delayed in giving first-aid to the victim.

Officials added that the officers only activated their body-worn cameras just after the shooting, and it only captured that part due to a 60-second “look back” function. In effect, the circumstances leading to the shooting weren’t captured. The function also doesn’t support audio recording.

“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. They provide transparency and accountability, and protect the public, as well as officers, when the facts are in question,” Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said in a statement.

Preliminary investigations reveal a gun wasn’t found at the scene of the shooting, and the victim was apparently a visitor at the home. As the call was also a non-emergency one, the officers – who arrived in two separate cars – did not activate run lights and sirens. Because of that, the dash camera in the police vehicle wasn’t turned on, the police said, according to NBC News.

“This is a tragedy on many levels,” Ginther said. “Most importantly a life has been lost. That must be our focus going forward.”

He continued: “We promise that we will provide as much transparency as possible on our part, both with the investigators and the public. Our community deserves the facts. If evidence determines that laws or policies were violated, officers will be held accountable.”

Meanwhile, the officer involved in the shooting was relieved of duty on Tuesday, and he is being investigated for not turning on his body camera, The Washington Post reported. This incident comes after another 23-year-old Black man, Casey Goodson, was fatally shot by a Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy on December 4 as he was making his way into his grandmother’s home after a dentist’s appointment.

Columbus Police said the officer involved in the shooting, Jason Meade, alleged Goodson, who had a concealed carry permit, flashed a gun at him while he drove past his patrol car, PEOPLE reported. The victim’s family, however, said he was holding a large sandwich, not a gun. That case is also under investigation.

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