White women with glasses and short brown hair wearing a police uniform looking surprised

She was a typical All-American girl in high school. She attended Focus Learning Academy, was a good softball player and at one point she was a cheerleader. Donna Dalton had dreams as a girl to join the Columbus Police Department and, because she loved horses, to become a mounted police officer.

But her dreams quickly got sidetracked and turned to nightmares. She became pregnant at 18 and had two children before she was 21. She fell into toxic relationships with troubled men and began abusing painkillers and drugs. An attractive young woman, Donna supported her habit by becoming an exotic dancer at The House of Babes on South High Street. Later, her addiction dragged her into prostitution on the mean streets of Columbus's west side, on the infamous Sullivant Avenue.

Undercover in an unmarked car

There she spiraled into run-ins and arrests by the vice squad of the Columbus Police Department (CPD). Then on the tragic day, August 23, she was picked up by undercover Officer Andrew Mitchell in an unmarked police car. He drove to an isolated parking lot behind an apartment complex where "Johns" frequently brought prostitutes for business.

According to some witnesses an argument broke out and Officer Mitchell, who claimed Donna stabbed him in his hand, proceeded to shoot her eight times while she sat in the front seat of his vehicle. He had parked his car so close to the building that she could not escape.

Mitchell has been relieved of his badge and gun while the FBI investigates the murder. In the meantime, Donna's family has been totally left in the dark for the last two months, as no official report has been submitted to the public.

Dalton’s stunned family has received only three personal items retrieved from Donna's body: her bracelet, her belly ring, and a hair tie.  There has been no autopsy or toxicology results submitted. The CPD had refused the family's request for a rape kit examination procedure on her body. Donna's body was cremated.

The family suspects foul play

Bobbi McCalla, Donna's older sister, says the family has been ignored or treated disrespectfully by CPD and County Prosecutor Ron Obrien's office. "There is something very wrong with how secretive and evasive they are" said McCalla.

Dalton’s “family believes Donna was killed for something she knew,” according to local ABC news. Columbus TV10 noted that Mitchell was under a “separate criminal investigation surrounding property” he owned. His three known rental properties have had over 500 police runs for incidents involving homicide, sex crimes and vice-related activities.

"We know that Donna knew Mitchell before the murder and that Donna had assisted Mitchell in stealing west side dealers’ drugs from their homes. Her street sisters (sex workers) are very suspicious of Mitchell and his fellow vice officers," McCalla said.

Donna's family is cynical and suspect Mitchell's foul play. They believe that Donna may have had much damaging information about Officer Mitchell’s illegal activities. Even before the murder, Mitchell had many complaints lodged against him by the public. "Most of the street sisters knew that he had ‘girls’ coming in and out of his apartment at all times of the day and night." said McCalla.

The family also speculates that Mitchell could have cut his own hand as a cover for shooting Donna eight times.

Officer Mitchell had been under a CPD criminal investigation since August unrelated to the Dalton case. During this time the FBI has been called in to investigate the Columbus Police Vice Unit who have had dozens of complaints filed against them.

Officer Mitchell is also linked to Bobbie Renee Simpson, the woman whose burning body was found October 15 in a container in Upper Arlington. Mitchell was the arresting officer in a case involving Simpson in November 2017. Any connection between the two women is yet to be determined, however similarities are obvious. Donna Dalton was a petite, young, white, west side sex worker with a reported drug problem and an arrest record who knew Officer Mitchell. Bobbie Renee Simpson was a petite, young, white, west side sex worker with a drug problem and an arrest record who knew Officer Mitchell. Details in the Simpson cases are still emerging, but a man who works at the casino on the west side has been picked up in relation to the Simpson case on alleged DNA evidence.

Justice denied

Donna's family is tenacious and angry. In early October they were alerted that Officer Mitchell was at the Dawg House on Lockbourne Avenue. Several members of her family showed up to verbally confront him.  Mitchell remained unmoved and continued to drink and watch the bar's TV. Soon there were 20 cop units around the building plus a police helicopter circling the bar above. Mitchell finally left surrounded by several of his colleagues.

Bodycam footage of the incident by 10TV news revealed that as CPD escorted him to his car, one officer told Mitchell he was still eligible to apply for a concealed carry permit, according to 10TV news. Right after that, the bodycam was turned off and CPD are claiming that bodycams can be turned on or off solely at the discretion of the officers. The news report states that CPD has been called to protect Mitchell at least seven times for “house checks, extra patrols” and to respond to concerns about protests against him.

Meanwhile, no one from the CPD has interviewed the family. They feel slighted, ignored and dismissed by the police system. On October 23, family and friends organized over a hundred people to protest outside the downtown police headquarters demanding justice on deaf ears. Justice delayed is justice


Columbus’ Vice Unit’s vices

The CPD Vice Unit stands accused of extortion, selective enforcement of the law and entrapment, NBC4 reports. A joint ABC/Fox 28 investigation turned up Vice Unit expenses for alcohol, private dances at strip clubs and payoffs to informants. Local 10TV news noted that CPD spent over $2700 on lap dances and over $1600 on tips to strippers. The 10TV report found that the CPD “vice unit has cited more women for giving undercover officers lap dances than those who were cited for solicitation,” out of 41 arrested, 35 came from Kahoot’s gentlemen’s club.

In addition to focusing on Officer Mitchell’s activities, the recent FBI investigation in Columbus’ Vice Unit was partially initiated as a result of the infamous CPD arrest of Stormy Daniels. Daniels is the porn star who allegedly had an affair with Donald Trump and says she was paid off not to talk about it during the 2016 election. CPD arrested Daniels and two other women at Columbus’ Sirens nightclub July 11 for violating the state’s “no contact” law, prohibiting strippers to touch clients.

According to 10TV, CPD internal emails revealed evidence that the CPD officers shared an article and information about Daniels prior to her arrest and that their “conservative values” –  presumably their support of Trump – prompted arrests at Sirens. Daniels’ attorney Michael Avenatti claims it was a “politically motivated” situation. City attorney Zach Klein quickly dropped the charges against Daniels and the two other women.

Four CPD vice officers involved currently face a federal lawsuit. One of them, Steve Rosser, had been previously charged with entrapment of bartenders regarding selling alcohol to minors at the Goat Bar in New Albany, the 10TV report noted.

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