Columbus police chief stepping down after Hill, Goodson shooting deaths

Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan has stepped down from his position. Photo courtesy of Columbus Division of Police/Website
Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan has stepped down from his position. Photo courtesy of Columbus Division of Police/Website

Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The chief of police for Columbus, Ohio, is stepping down, the city's mayor said after two Black men were recently shot and killed by police officers.

In a recorded statement on Thursday, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan was to be moved to deputy chief, stating he failed to implement the reforms and changes to the force expected of him when he was appointed to the city's top cop in December 2019.


"Columbus residents have lost faith in him and in Division's ability to change on its own. Chief Quinlan understood. He agreed to step back, so the city can move forward," Ginther said.

Deputy Chief Mike Woods will perform the duties of acting police chief as they conduct a search for Quinlan's permanent replacement, the mayor said.

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"I want to assure Columbus residents that our commitment to change and reform will not wane as we seek the next leader of the Division of police," he said.


Ned Pettus, Jr., the city of Columbus' director of public safety, said Quinlan's decision to step down came as Ginther and he "decided to go in a new direction."

"I look forward to continuing the critical work of reforming and strengthening this Division of Police," he said in a statement. "The community we serve deserves nothing else."

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Both officials separately thanked the chief for his service and the changes he was able to make in his time as the city's top cop.

Quinlan, in a statement, said serving as chief of police was the honor of his career and while he hoped to continue in that role he respects Pettus' decision and the community's need to go in a different direction.

"We accomplished a lot in my time as chief. We implemented dozens of reforms geared toward accountability, transparency and strengthening public trust," he said. "Someone else will now carry those priorities forward, and I will help and support them in any way I can."

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Quinlan's demotion comes a month after Columbus police officer Adam Coy shot and killed 47-year-old Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, on Dec. 22.

Coy, who has since been fired, shot Hill after responding to a noise disturbance call in the Cranbrook neighborhood. Hill was inside a garage with a cellphone in his hand when he was shot. An autopsy report ruled Hill's death a homicide the result of "multiple gunshot wounds."


Hill's death came weeks after Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade shot and killed Casey Goodson, Jr., a 23-year-old Black man, in the door way of his home on Dec. 4.

Shannon Hardin, Columbus City Council president, said he supports Ginther's decision to search for a new police chief "as a way for our community to continue to heal."

"I appreciated Chief Quinlan's genuine efforts to push reform from inside the Division," he said in a statement. "Council remains focused on reform and a reimagined vision for public safety."

Ginther said he will appoint members to the Civilian Review Board, which will select an inspector general who while gain civilian oversight of the police for the first time in the city's history as well as invest in next-generation body worn cameras.

Nana Watson, president of the NAACP Columbus branch, said they support a transparent search process in the selection of a new chief of police.

"The Columbus Branch of the NAACP will remain vigilant in our advocacy for improvement in multiple areas within the Columbus Division of Police," Watson said in a statement.

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