Lawsuit Seeks Systemic Change to End Police Abuse and Discriminatory Enforcement
July 8, 2020
COLUMBUS — A group of local law firms today filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the City of Columbus on behalf of more than a dozen people attacked by Columbus police officers during recent protests against excessive use of force by the police against people of color.
Tamara K. Alsaada, one of the plaintiffs in the case, explained, “One of the problems we face with policing in America is the deep-seated hostility of law enforcement to anyone who questions or exposes the racism and violent attitudes of many within police departments.”
“Like most other police departments in America, the Columbus Division of Police has failed to deter or punish its officers for using excessive or unnecessary force against African Americans in our city,” said Sean Walton, one of the attorneys representing demonstrators. “This lawsuit is the result of the department using extreme and violent tactics against peaceful protestors who publicly gathered to oppose and challenge this documented history.”
Chanda Brown, another attorney for demonstrators, stressed, “We have to make changes to address the reality that many officers target anyone who questions their authority.”
The lawsuit exposes the deep-seated racism that infects law enforcement and the justice system, an institutionalized mindset at the heart of these protests. This case documents the needless and repeated use of aggressive and violent tactics including assault, the indiscriminate and improper use of pepper spray, tear gas, wooden bullets, and flash bang grenades directed at demonstrators and bystanders. Some officers fabricated criminal charges to maliciously arrest protestors and cover up their own unprovoked violence.
Besides damages, the lawsuit seeks systematic changes for the Columbus Division of Police listed in the appendix to this release.
A copy of the 81-page Complaint with links to pertinent videos can be found here.
A Zoom press conference will be held today at 1 pm to discuss the Complaint. The press conference will be streamed live on the Walton + Brown LLP Facebook page.
Walton + Brown LLP
The Gittes Law Group
Fred Gittes / firstname.lastname@example.org
Marshall & Forman LLC
Ed Forman / email@example.com
Serious and systemic changes must be made within the Columbus Division of Police. The lawsuit asks for the department to:
• Create a police civilian review board
• Eliminate the use of tear gas, rubber bullets, wooden pellets, pepper spray, flashbang grenades, kettling, chokeholds, strangleholds, no-knock warrants and pressure or weight on the neck, back or hip of a prone suspect
• Ensure all police actions are recorded during civilian interactions on body and vehicle cameras
• Enforce a standard that officers will always display badge numbers or identity cards
• Avoid interfering with working journalists during protests and other civilian interactions
• Allow anyone to video record police actions
• Commit to affirmative actions in recruitment, selection, retention and promotions
• Emphasize and train officers to use minimal force and to use deadly force only as a last resort
• Use unarmed intervention specialists on calls involving intoxication, drug use or abuse, mental health crises, teenagers or children, vandalism and the homeless
• Require officers to intervene when they see another officer using excessive force or retaliation
• Reassess equipment and discard hardware more appropriate for the military
• Screen applicants closely for excessive use of force in previous employment
• Document and preserve in an officer’s file for ten years suspected use of excessive force
• Analyze and identify neighborhoods and known individuals for crime potential to help deter future criminal behavior
• Schedule regular meetings in predominantly minority neighborhoods to identify civilian concerns
• Pay officers for professional liability insurance and require them to pay any premium increase due to improper use of force or retaliation
• Appoint an independent monitor to oversee and ensure the above steps are implemented