Officer in Columbus, Ohio shoots a black man before turning on the body camera, officials say

Columbus, Ohio – A police officer who shot and killed a black man with a cell phone in the Ohio capital early Tuesday did not activate his body camera beforehand, and the dash cameras on the officer’s cruiser were also not activated, city officials said. Due to an automatic “look back” feature on the body’s camera, the recording was captured on video but without audio, said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and the Municipal Department of Public Safety.

As a result, there is 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 cameras from immediately after the shooting indicated “a delay in providing first aid to the man,” the public security service said in a press release.

“It is unacceptable to me and the community for officers not to turn on their cameras,” Ginther said at a news conference.

Columbus Police Commissioner Thomas Quinlan echoed the sentiment in a statement a few minutes later.

“The division has invested millions of dollars in these cameras for the express purpose of making a video and audio recording of these types of meetings,” said Quinlan. “They provide transparency and accountability, and protect both the public and officers when the facts are at stake.”

Officers activated their body cameras immediately after the shooting, Quinlan said.

Noted civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump also weighed in on Twitter:

Police will not release the victim’s name until his family has been notified and until they have a chance to watch the video of the shooting, Ginther said.

Police said officers responded at 1:37 a.m. to a neighbor’s non-emergency call about a man who was in a vehicle for a long time and repeatedly turned the vehicle on and off. Since it was a non-emergency call, the cruiser’s dash cam was not activated.

Upon arrival, agents arrived and found a garage door open and a man inside.

In the camera video of the body, “the man walked up to the officer with a cellphone in his left hand,” police said. “His right hand was not visible.”

An officer shot and hit the man, who died in a local hospital just under an hour later. No weapon was found on the spot, police said.

Scene of the deadly police shooting of a black man by an officer in Columbus, Ohio, early December 22, 2020.


The man was visiting someone’s home at the time, police said.

Quinlan fired the officer on duty, ordered him to surrender his rifle and badge, and took him from the police pending the outcome of the shooting investigation. With a union contract, the officer is still paid. A notice was left with the union representing Columbus officers.

The look-back feature, known as “buffering,” is a common technology on body cameras and is intended to address this exact situation, said Charles Katz, a criminal law professor at Arizona State University.

While the camera’s video runs continuously, they don’t start recording until triggered, saving whatever they’re set to, such as 30 seconds or a minute, Katz said.

“In a technical sense, it’s always a recording, but it’s not saved until it’s activated, and then only the previous 60 seconds are saved,” Katz said.

The city council issued a statement describing members as “more than frustrated” by the news.

“We are impatient for answers, but insist on a thorough, professional and full investigation that will ensure that justice is done,” the statement said.

The state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation, which is the city’s policy for shootings involving the Columbus Police Department. Ginther said he has also asked the U.S. Attorney in Columbus to review the case for violations of the victim’s federal civil rights.

American attorney David DeVillers is also investigating the December 4 shooting of Casey Goodson Jr. by a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy.