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Ohio Headlines

Officer faces termination over fatal shooting of Black man

By FARNOUSH AMIRI Report for America/Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The fate of a white Columbus police officer who fatally shot a Black man last week hangs in the balance after a disciplinary hearing Monday that may result in his termination.
Columbus Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. concluded a hearing to determine whether the actions taken by Officer Adam Coy in the moments before and after the fatal shooting of Andre Hill on Tuesday were justified.
Members of the police union representing Columbus officers attended the hearing on behalf of Coy, who was not in attendance, according to a statement from Pettus’ office.
The hearing comes after Police Chief Thomas Quinlan made a video statement Christmas Eve, saying he had seen enough to recommend Coy be terminated.
Quinlan expedited the investigation and bypassed procedure to file two departmental charges alleging critical misconduct against Coy in the death of Hill.
“We have an officer who violated his oath to comply with the rules and policies of the Columbus Division of Police,” he said. “And the consequences of that violation are so great, it requires immediate action. This violation cost an innocent man his life.”
Coy and another officer responded to a neighbor’s nonemergency call after 1 a.m. Tuesday about a car in front of his house in the city’s northwest side that had been running, then shut off, then turned back on, according to a copy of the call released Wednesday.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said it remains unclear if that car had anything to do with Hill.
Police bodycam footage showed Hill emerging from a garage and holding up a cellphone in his left hand seconds before he was fatally shot by Coy. There is no audio because the officer hadn’t activated the body camera; an automatic “look back” feature captured the shooting without audio.
An investigation is also being conducted into the other officers who responded to the call that ended in Hill being shot, who Quinlan said also appear to have either failed to activate their body cameras or to render Hill aid. He said any others who violated department protocols will be held accountable.
Officers must activate their body cameras as soon as they are dispatched to a major incident such as a shooting, robbery or burglary, under departmental policy. Although Coy was dispatched on a nonemergency call, the call became an enforcement action when the officer interacted with Hill because that was separate from the original call, said police department spokesperson Sgt. James Fuqua.
In addition to an internal police investigation, Attorney General Dave Yost was appointed a special prosecutor in the death of Hill on Thursday.
“We will do our duty based on the facts and the law,” Yost said in a tweet. “Whatever the outcome, someone will be angry—but the decision will be objective.”
There is also an investigation under the state’s criminal investigations unit, under Yost, with assistance from the U.S. attorney’s office and the FBI’s Civil Rights Division.
As far as Coy’s employment, the city’s public safety director will now review all evidence and documentation submitted by the police chief and rule on his recommendation for Coy to be fired immediately.
Coy, a 17-year member of the force, has been relieved of duty, ordered to turn in his gun and badge, and stripped of police powers pending the outcome of investigations.
By union contract, Coy will still be paid.
The killing of Hill at the hands of Columbus police follows the fatal shooting of Casey Goodson Jr. on Dec. 4 by a white Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy. The two back-to-back shootings have resulted in an outpour of criticism from advocates and the Black community in Columbus for wider and more comprehensive police reform.
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Farnoush Amiri is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Ohio Headlines

Police: Girl, 7, hit in back by bullet fired into home

CINCINNATI (AP) — A 7-year-old girl was hit by one of several bullets fired into a Cincinnati house on Christmas night, authortiies said.
The gunfire occurred just after 11 p.m. Friday at a home adjacent to the border of the Clifton and Avondale neighborhoods, police said.
Officers said the child was hit in the back and was breathing when they arrived. She was taken to a nearby hospital for surgery. Her condition wasn’t immediately available.
No arrests were immediately reported. Police said it wasn’t immediately clear whether the shooting was random or the home was targeted. A white sport utility vehicle reported leaving the scene was being sought.

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Ohio Headlines

Police: Boy, 14, grazed by bullet fired from vehicle

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A 14-year-old boy riding in a vehicle was grazed by a bullet reportedly fired from another vehicle on Christmas night, police said.
Officers were called just before 6:30 p.m. Friday to the north Columbus scene of what was initially reported as a hit-and-run accident.
Police said the 14-year-old told them that he was a passenger in a vehicle that came under fire from the driver of a grey vehicle, who fired several times, grazing the boy on his leg.
Fire department medics treated the juvenile victim at scene. Detectives are investigating the case as a felony assault and are asking anyone from the public with information to call them.

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Ohio Headlines

Police: Deaths of Ohio couple believed to be murder-suicide

MARION, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in Ohio are calling the deaths of a husband and wife found in the garage of their Marion home over the weekend an apparent murder-suicide.
Lt. B. J. Gruber of the Marion police department said preliminary information has led investigators to believe that Max Berry, 44, shot and killed Amy Berry, 42, before shooting himself, police said in a news release.
A relative found the couple’s bodies in the garage of the home on the city’s eastern edge shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, police said.
“This is a horrible tragedy in every conceivable way,” Marion Police Maj. Jeff Clewell, commander of the Criminal Investigations Division, said in the release.
The bodies were taken to the Lucas County Coroner’s Office for autopsies, and the Marion County coroner’s office is to determine the official cause of death. Police said the investigation continues and no further release of information was planned Sunday.

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Ohio Headlines

Ohio spent $55M in early 2020 on gowns, 3 million from China

By JULIE CARR SMYTH Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — More than half the $98 million Ohio spent on personal protective equipment in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic went to buy hospital gowns, including 3 million from China.
Ohio spent $55 million on gowns, its most expensive category of such equipment, an Associated Press tally found.
That included the purchase of 3 million gowns from an Ohio-based marketing and printing company, Three Leaf Productions, that got them from Chinese manufacturer Xiantao Chenguang Protection.
Records show the $15 million bill included $3.5 million for shipping; many states chartered flights to get personal protective equipment from China and other countries. Messages seeking comment were left with Three Leaf and Xiantao Chenguang.
The AP tallied more than $7 billion in coronavirus purchases by states this spring for personal protective equipment and high-demand medical devices such as ventilators and infrared thermometers. The data covers the period from the emergence of COVID-19 in the U.S. in early 2020 to the start of summer.
The AP’s data, obtained through public records requests, is the most comprehensive accounting to date of how much states were buying, what they were spending, and the vendors they were paying during a chaotic spring when inadequate national stockpiles left state governments scrambling for hard-to-get supplies.
States competed against one another, hospitals, the federal government and even other countries. In many cases, they suspended normal competitive bidding requirements.
The data shows a sharp increase in prices of protective equipment as the virus began spreading. Before the pandemic, an N95 mask that filters out tiny particles might have cost around 50 cents. This spring, states paid an average of $3 for each N95, according to the AP’s analysis, and some paid more than $10 per mask to get them quickly.
The AP’s data also shows that millions of dollars flowed from states to businesses that had never before sold personal protective equipment.
Ohio, for example, made two gown purchases totaling $6 million from La La Land Production & Design, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer. In normal times, it specializes in high-end fashion products, including designer shoes, handbags, wallets and belts.
“We — along with many U.S. manufacturers — quickly pivoted to PPE when we realized that the need to save lives and livelihoods was great,” company spokesperson Maryam Zar said. “Manufacturing has largely left the U.S., but those of who have insisted on staying and carving out a niche have become a crucial part of the response to this pandemic, and likely part of the recovery.”
After gowns, Ohio spent $16 million on ventilators and accessories, $12 million on masks, $8 million on respirators, $5.5 million on gloves and $625,000 on face shields. The rest of the spending went to thermometers, sanitizer, wipes, shoe covers and coveralls.
In one case, the state spent over $100,000 to buy several dozen “gas masks” from Grainger, at a cost of more than $680 each.
Lindsey Bohrer, a spokesperson for the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Management Agency, said the items were actually reusable and enhanced N95 masks, which could be refitted with the $70 filters the state purchased alongside them.
“Because of limited stock/quantity across the country, Ohio EMA secured any type of mask possible for first responders during the onset of the activation,” Bohrer said in an email.
She said the masks were delivered to the state stockpile maintained by the health department.

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Ohio Headlines

Ohio State tallies hundreds more instances of abuse by doc

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State University has tallied hundreds more instances of alleged decades-old sexual misconduct by now-deceased team doctor Richard Strauss, bringing the total to more than 2,000, according to its latest campus crime data disclosed under the federal Clery Act.
Hundreds of men allege Strauss abused them during his two-decade tenure at the school.
It reported that about 2,200 total instances of fondling and 127 instances of rape attributed to Strauss came to light in 2018 and 2019 through lawsuits, direct reports to the university and a law firm investigation conducted for Ohio State.
Strauss died in 2005. No one has publicly defended him.
The investigation conducted after an ex-wrestler raised allegations in 2018 concluded Strauss’ misconduct occurred in his work with various athletic teams, a student health center and an off-campus clinic.
About 400 men sued the university over its failure to stop him despite students raising concerns with school employees as early as 1979. Many of the men say they were groped during exams.
The university apologized and pledged a “monetary resolution” for those Strauss harmed. It has reached nearly $47 million in settlements for 185 of the plaintiffs. More lawsuits are pending.

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Ohio Headlines

2 men at hospital report being shot on I-70 in Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Two men who came to a hospital with gunshot wounds reported being fired upon as they were driving on an interstate in Ohio, authorities said.
Columbus police said the 19- and 23-year-old men went to the hospital just before 2 p.m. Friday with gunshot wounds to their arms and torso.
They said they had been driving west on Interstate 70 heading toward I-71 when they heard several gunshots and realized they had been struck, police said. The two told police they did not believe they were the intended target and didn’t want to pursue charges, police said.
Police said both were listed as stable and their injuries didn’t appear life-threatening. Anyone with information is asked to call investigators.

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Ohio Headlines

Police: Woman shot, killed, while riding in car with 2 girls

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — A woman was shot and killed in a vehicle in which her two young daughters were also riding over the weekend, authorities said.
Cleveland officers responded to Interstate 77 shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday in Newburgh Heights and found local police trying to revive the 33-year-old woman, who had multiple gunshot wounds, police said.
She was taken Metro hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her name wasn’t immediately released. Her 12-year-old daughter and her eight-month-old baby daughter weren’t injured but were taken to the hospital for evaluation.
Police say their preliminary investigation indicates that the three were traveling in a vehicle with a 34-year-old man who shot and killed the woman. He was arrested but charges weren’t immediately announced.
Newburgh Heights Police Chief John Majoy told WJW-TV that the shooting happened the interstate just after 1 a.m. Saturday at Fleet Avenue. Majoy said his officers assisted Cleveland police.

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Ohio Headlines

Police: Shooting at Ohio birthday party kills 2, injures 1

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AP) — Authorities in Ohio say an early morning shooting at a Cleveland birthday party claimed the lives of two men and left a third hospitalized.
Police say officers responded to the address shortly before 5 a.m. Saturday and found a man shot in the driveway and another shot in the home. The 35-year-old man in the driveway was pronounced dead at the scene and the 38-year-old man in the house was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A third victim who arrived at the Cleveland Clinic in a private auto was transferred to University Hospital and admitted for treatment of gunshot wounds. The 24-year-old man’s condition wasn’t immediately released.
Police said their preliminary information indicates that the older man had an after-hours operation where there was a birthday party for two people, including the 35-year-old man, with about 30 to 50 people attending. Police said the 35-year-old man got into an argument and was asked to leave but later returned, possibly with a gun.
Witnesses reported multiple gunshots and two firearms were recovered at the scene. Police said they believe there were multiple shooters but they haven’t determined their identities. The names of the two men killed weren’t immediately released.

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Ohio Headlines

Ohio elections chief certifies 2020 general election results

By JULIE CARR SMYTH Associated Press
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s elections chief certified results on Friday of a 2020 election that he said was almost flawlessly executed despite the pandemic, raising concern that President Donald Trump’s allegations of widespread fraud could be undercutting voter confidence in the process.
Republican Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s certification delivered the state’s 18 electoral votes to Trump, who beat Democratic President-elect Joe Biden in the state by 8.03 percentage points.
Republican Gov. Mike DeWine completed his part of the process soon afterward.
LaRose said Trump has every right to pursue legitimate legal claims but that it will do a disservice to democracy if his challenges to the outcome all turn out to be baseless. He said trusting election outcomes is “the very foundation of our way of life in a democracy.”
“When people invent conspiracies about elections that aren’t based in reality, that’s damaging and that’s irresponsible and shouldn’t happen,” LaRose said. “Because the fact is that elections are run better and more honestly than really I think they ever have been.”
LaRose said Ohio produced an extraordinary level of access for voters, setting records with nearly 6 million votes cast and a 74% turnout that tops the average of the past 20 years.
Ohio slashed the percentage of absentee mail-in ballots disqualified for voter error to less than half a percent this year — and it did so despite a surge in first-time voters, LaRose said. Another record was made with 94% of the absentee ballots requested being returned, he said.
“Again, whether your favorite candidates won or lost, Ohioans can trust that this result was accurate and honest,” he said. “That’s our mission. That’s what we do here at the Secretary of State’s Office and that’s what we do in 88 county boards of elections.”
LaRose certified the presidential results in an event broadcast on government TV and streamed live on Facebook. He pushed back at Trump’s refusal to concede the election and to inaccurately claim its results are riddled with fraud — though without mentioning the president by name.
“Abraham Lincoln said the election belongs to the people. It was true then, and it’s just as true now,” he said.
LaRose stressed that point in a subsequent interview with The Associated Press.
“I’m patient enough to allow the president to present his evidence in a court of law and for the courts to hear that, but if there isn’t evidence to back up these claims that he’s making, then that’s a big problem,” he said. “And really it’s a disservice to the voters and to the many thousands of election officials that just ran a very challenging election.”
Democratic President-elect Joe Biden fell short of Trump in the state by 8.03 percentage points, giving Trump a slightly smaller margin of victory in the state than the 8.13 percentage points of four years ago.
After originally writing Ohio off, the former vice president made an 11th-hour campaign push into the state that Democrats have conceded was too little, too late.