A police officer in Columbus, Ohio, was temporarily removed from duty pending the outcome of criminal and internal investigations following the fatal shooting of an apparently unnamed Black man early Tuesday.
The city’s Mayor Andrew Ginther demanded that the unidentified officer who fired the shot be removed following news that the officer’s body camera was switched off in the moments leading up to the shooting.
“While it is very early in the investigation, there is one fact that disturbs me greatly,” Ginther said in a news conference Tuesday, according to member station WOSU. “The officer involved did not turn on their body-worn camera until after the shooting.”
The shooting occurred at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police received calls in the Cranbrook neighborhood of the city reporting a suspicious vehicle at one home. When officers arrived, they saw a man in the garage. Police say the man walked toward the officers with a cellphone in his left hand, but they couldn’t see his right hand. The officer then shot him.
Neither of the two responding officers activated their body-worn cameras until after the shooting. But the cameras offer a 60-second “look back” function, meaning the actual shooting was recorded. No audio was captured through this function, so what was said, if anything, between the man and the officers leading up to the shooting is unclear. There is also no dash-cam video because police are not required to activate it if they aren’t responding to an emergency call.
Officers on scene failed to offer first aid to the man immediately and no weapon was found near the victim. He was transported to Riverside Hospital where he died. WOSU says the man was 47.
Tuesday’s shooting is the second involving Columbus police this month in which officers’ body cameras weren’t turned on. The city is still reeling from the Dec. 4 police killing of Casey Goodson Jr. Police claim Goodson pointed a gun at officers, though without body-cam video or witnesses, their assertion cannot be corroborated.
The mayor on Tuesday went on to say, “If you’re not going to turn on your body-worn camera, you cannot serve and protect the people of Columbus.”
Ginther said available body camera footage of the shooting will be released within 24 hours.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been asked to look into the shooting. Ginther also asked U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers to review the case to see if any federal civil rights laws were violated, WOSU reports.