Columbus Ohio was one of the many cities around the country that broke out into protest after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Thousands of citizens exercised their rights to protest, some peaceful some not, and many were face to face with Columbus Police Officers in stand-off situations that lead to arrest and aggressive behavior on both sides.
After complaints from citizens about the way, Columbus Police Officers handled the protesters the City of Columbus initiated an independent investigation into the allegations. Columbus Safety Director Ned Pettus Jr. stated. “The City hired retired FBI agent Rick Wozniak last summer to conduct a fully independent investigation into allegations of misconduct of Columbus Police officers. His focus was to determine whether any officers violated the law in their response to protesters and rioters. He continues that work in coordination with Special Prosecutor Kathleen Garber. This is important, necessary work. Answers and accountability are what the people of Columbus demand, and deserve.”
On June 9, 2021 the Garber and Wozniak announced that charges have been filed against three Columbus Police officers for allegedly conducting practices that went against the policy of the Columbus Police Department during the protest.
Officer Traci M. Shaw has been charged with three counts of Assault (M-1), three counts of Dereliction of Duty (M-2) and three counts of Interfering with Civil Rights (M-1). Officer Shaw’s charges are related to an event that occurred on May 30, 2020.
Sergeant Holly Kanode has been charged with one count of Falsification (M-1) and one count of Dereliction of Duty (M-2). Sergeant Kanode’s charges are related to an event that occurred on May 30, 2020.
Officer Phillip Walls has been charged with two counts of Assault (M-1), two counts of Dereliction of Duty (M-2) and two counts of Interfering with Civil Rights (M-1). Officer Walls’ charges are related to an event that occurred on May 29, 2020.
Special Prosecutor Garber released a statement saying,
“I was asked by the City of Columbus to independently evaluate the allegations of police misconduct from last summer’s protests so that both citizens and police officers are held to the same standard of accountability,” said Kathleen Garber. “We appreciate the community’s patience over the past year while we have made continued attempts to interview witnessing officers and identify officers committing the alleged misconduct during the protests. We are continuing the investigations into possible misconduct by other officers. We will also continue with investigations with respect to identified officers pending the arbitrator’s decision.”
Investigations are still underway and will remain open. There are still unidentified officers to further investigate and witnesses to interview to complete. Close to 100 citizens have been prosecuted by Columbus’ City Attorney’s Office for violent and or aggressive behavior that included rioting and threatening behavior towards police.
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