Dozen more plaintiffs sue Columbus police over 2020 protests

A dozen other protesters have filed lawsuits against the Columbus Police Division, alleging officers’ actions during the downtown protests in May and June 2020 were unnecessary and excessive.

The lawsuits, which were filed in US District Court in Columbus on Friday, were filed on the eve of the second anniversary of the start of the racial justice protests, which began after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis in May. 25, 2020.

The protests in Columbus began the evening of May 28, 2020 and continued for weeks. Thousands of people converged on the city center, with the biggest protests taking place in the first few days.

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In one of the lawsuits, 11 people who said they were present at the protests filed a lawsuit against Columbus police, former Chief Thomas Quinlan and multiple officers for alleged excessive use of force, mental harm and other violations. civil rights.

Among the complaints in that lawsuit, Ellen Abdur-Rahim, also known as Hana Ortiz Sanchez, a prominent Columbus-area activist, alleged that she was chased by police and doused with pepper spray and gas tear gas. Abdur-Rahim also alleged that she was hit by wooden bullets in the ribs and on the buttocks.

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Abdur-Rahim also alleged in the lawsuit that police followed her home after the protests and parked outside her apartment on several occasions in July and August 2020.

Another plaintiff in the lawsuit, Duck Bardus, also alleged among his complaints that Columbus police officers were seen outside their home. Bardus alleged this was due to their involvement in several press reports about the protests.

Complainant Elizabeth Andromeda alleged that a tear gas canister became lodged in her wheelchair during the protests on May 30, 2020, causing her to feel “intense burning pain in her eyes, throat, lungs and skin and leaving her breathless.”

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Several plaintiffs in the lawsuit said they were working as street nurses or legal observers when they were attacked by police.

In a separate lawsuit filed on Friday, Gaige Treadway, of Heath, Licking County, alleged that her constitutional rights were violated when she was arrested on May 30, 2020.

According to the lawsuit, Treadway had “disabled” a gas canister that had been used by Columbus police to disperse protesters. As he walked away, Treadway said he knocked down officers, according to the lawsuit, and was then “grabbed” from behind and had his mask ripped from his face.

Treadway’s lawsuit alleges he was arrested and held on a bus that was used as a temporary detention center for more than six hours before being taken to the Franklin County Jail. He was charged with assaulting a police officer.

However, Treadway said in the lawsuit that the court documents contained no information about the police who provoked the physical confrontation.

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Treadway was held in jail for two days before he could post bond and be released. On June 9, 2020, his charges were dismissed, the lawsuit says.

Following the protests, U.S. District Court Judge Algeron Marbley issued an order in April 2021 barring Columbus police from using pepper spray, tear gas or wooden bullets, as well as other ammunition non-lethal, to disperse peaceful crowds. That order was finally adopted as part of a settlement between the city and two dozen other protesters who filed a lawsuit against the city and police.

The city paid $5.75 million in this settlement.

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The same day the federal civil lawsuits were filed, Special Prosecutor Brad Nicodemus released a statement on Friday saying that a criminal review of multiple incidents of alleged Columbus police misconduct during the protests did not find enough evidence to lead to the filing of additional criminal charges. These incidents will now be reviewed for administrative discipline by the police division.

Three Columbus police officers have been criminally charged following a city investigation into police actions during the protest that has so far cost the city more than $615,000. The trial of one of the officers, Holly Kanode, was ongoing but is currently on hold.

That’s because Kathleen Garber, the city’s special prosecutor handling the case, filed a motion last week with the Ohio Supreme Court asking that Franklin County Municipal Court Judge James O’Grady, be removed from the case. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor has yet to rule on the motion.

The trials of the other two officers, Sgt. Phillip Walls and Officer Traci Shaw, slated to take place later this year.

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