The fight that resulted in the shooting death of a man by a Columbus police officer on Wednesday night apparently was the result of racial tensions between black and Nepalese residents of a North Side apartment complex, neighbors said.
Residents of the complex said a melee broke out between four black men and as many as 20 Nepalese immigrants, all of whom live in the Breckenridge Apartments off Shanley Drive.
About 100 Nepalese refugees live in the complex, said a woman from Nepal who lives there. She said the racial tensions are ongoing, and she asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.
Yesterday, police still wouldn’t release the name of the man who died shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Ohio State University Medical Center.
Police also wouldn’t comment further on the circumstances that led to the shooting or give the name of the officers involved, including one who was treated at Riverside Methodist Hospital for a knee injury.
The incident began, Columbus police said, when officers were called about 8:30 p.m. to 1666 Shanley Dr. on a report of a fight that included a man with a gun.
Just as officers arrived, they heard gunshots, said Sgt. Christine Nemchev, spokeswoman for Columbus police.
Two officers went into a crowd that was fighting in the apartment-complex courtyard, and one of them got into a scuffle with an armed man. That man was shot by the officer’s partner, according to police.
Sgt. Jim Gilbert, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, said the officer fired her gun to protect her partner, who was struggling to take a gun from the man. “She came upon her partner on the ground fighting with the suspect and ended the threat,” Gilbert said.
“He could have easily been mortally wounded,” Gilbert said. “He was in a fight for his life."
One witness, however, said she didn’t think the man who was shot had a gun, and she said three Columbus police officers were involved.
According to that witness, who wouldn’t give her name for fear of retaliation, one officer had pinned the man against a parked vehicle and then called for backup. That’s when the other two officers arrived, she said.
She said it was true that the man was resisting arrest, but she said she didn’t see him pull out a gun or strike the officer. “He was struggling because he didn’t want to be arrested,” she said.
She did say, however, that she didn’t see him being shot because during the struggle, the man and the officer fell to the ground between two parked vehicles. He was shot by another officer at that time, she said.
This is one of five shootings involving Columbus police this month, including one last night in which no one was injured.
Four times this month, police have been fired on, and three people have been killed by police.
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