Attorney Robert Gresham, Esq. of Wright & Schulte LLC was recently featured in a Driskill Digest article regarding the effectiveness of Andre’s Law in Columbus. Mr. Gresham represents the family of 47-year-old Andre Hill, an African-American man shot by police during an altercation with the Columbus Division of Police (CPD) in December 2020. Hill died after more than a dozen officers failed to render emergency medical assistance. Adam Coy, the officer who shot Hill, was later indicted on charges of murder, felonious assault, and two counts of dereliction of duty.
During settlement negotiations with the City of Columbus, Hill’s family requested stricter requirements mandating officers receive first aid training, be equipped with life-saving supplies for immediate aid, and mandatory activation of body cameras when engaging with the public.
The resulting Andre’s Law was passed in February 2021, becoming part of the city code. As the law pertains only to CPD officers, a subsequent amendment later extended the regulations when officers work outside their jurisdiction on state or federal task forces. Multi-jurisdictional task forces are common between large cities and neighboring jurisdictions.
However, officers from other law enforcement agencies are not bound by Andre’s Law when responding to incidents within Columbus city limits. Nor does it apply to the more than 2,000 other sworn officers in more than 40 law enforcement agencies operating within the county.
Though city officials claim Andre’s Law has positively impacted the law and that officers have “gone above and beyond” in providing emergency medical care and body camera compliance, Mr. Gresham disagrees.
“The family is pleased that Andre’s Law was passed, but the impact on the community remains to be seen…” Mr. Gresham said. “Columbus PD and other local law enforcement continue to shoot, injure, and kill citizens under circumstances that are not justified and remain a source of trauma to our community, especially Black and Brown communities.”
Mr. Gresham also represents the estate of Donovan Lewis, a 19-year-old African-American man killed by CPD Officer Ricky Anderson in August 2022. In a wrongful death suit against Anderson and four other officers, Mr. Gresham cites the officers’ blatant violation of Andre’s Law.
“Less than two years [after Andre’s Law was enacted], Columbus Police Department failed to appropriately render medical aid to Donovan Lewis appropriately,” he wrote.
Filed in February 2023, the lawsuit intends to prove that:
- Immediately following the shooting, Anderson remains in the doorway, screaming at Lewis and other officers while allowing his dog to continue barking.
- Approximately 25 seconds after shooting Lewis, Anderson states, “I’m gonna have to leave.” He then turns and leaves Lewis’s apartment.
- Anderson provides no emergency first aid or medical care to Lewis throughout the incident.
Anderson has been charged with murder and reckless homicide; no other officers have been charged. An Inspection General internal investigation has been placed on hold until all criminal investigations have been concluded and any resulting indictments issued.
The consequences for violating Andre’s Law remain to be seen. According to the ordinance, officers who violate Andre’s Law are subject to discipline outlined in city policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements. Violations are investigated by CPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau and the officer’s chain of command. The final determination of discipline falls to the chief of police, per guidelines of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 collective bargaining agreement.
Officers who blatantly violate Andre’s Law are not barred from criminal charges. “However, in egregious cases, where the behavior evidences a reckless disregard for the express requirements of the new chapter pertaining to rendering aid, the City may pursue remedies beyond discipline, including the filing of criminal charges against violators for dereliction of duty.”
Wright & Schulte LLC handles complex personal injury and police brutality cases. Call 937-222-7477 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Centerville, Toledo, Youngstown, and Miamisburg.