Cop spraying a protestor

Lead lawyers in the federal lawsuit for protestors subjected to false arrests, illegal use of chemical weapons, and assaults by Columbus police officers during the Black Lives Matter protests in the Summer of 2020 announced today a settlement has been reached.

Attorneys John Marshall and Fred Gittes reported that, subject to final approval at the December 13 meeting of the Columbus City Council, the City will pay $5.75 million and abide by a permanent injunction barring use of non-lethal but dangerous weapons, chemical agents, and police tactics against peaceful protestors.

Marshall stressed, “The injunction mandates that peaceful protestors on city streets and sidewalks cannot be subjected to uses of force, arrests, or dispersal orders except in extraordinary circumstances. It also includes special protections for street medics, reporters, and legal observers.” Marshall added, “Federal Judge Algenon Marbley has indicated he intends to approve the settlement once the council votes on it. The permanent injunction mirrors a preliminary injunction the Judge issued in April, after reviewing testimony, video, and hundreds of exhibits in an 8-day hearing, where the Judge wrote in his order that Columbus police had ‘run amok.’”

Marshall explained, “The injunction was the primary goal of the firms that undertook this case as a team effort. Eleven civil rights attorneys and two investigators gathered thousands of hours of video and tens of thousands of pages of documents and presented the federal court with what Judge Marbley called a ‘mountain of evidence.’”

Gittes stressed, “There would never have been a legal team if it weren’t for the thirty-two protestors who were willing to put their names on this lawsuit knowing there were serious risks in doing so. We admire them for standing up for their principles, their concerns about racism, and their right to protest. That’s what got us involved.” Attorney Chanda Brown added, “The amount of money being paid out in this case reflects the fact that many of the plaintiffs suffered severe injuries—others will have arrests on the internet despite the dismissal of false charges following their unjustified arrests.”

Gittes added: “The administration and Chief Bryant have much to do. The evidence proved this was not about ‘a few bad apples, but a much deeper problem. The Division’s new leadership and the City’s new Safety Director must hold officers and supervisors who betray the public’s trust accountable. The settlement’s permanent injunction will give them a strong tool to do just that.” Gittes said it will also be a crime prevention tool: “With accountability and reform comes trust. With trust, Columbus residents will work more often with police to prevent and solve crime.”

Video and photographic evidence referenced in the news conference can be accessed using the links below:

• Video of Columbus police officer using chemical spray against fleeing woman, May 29, 2020:

• Video of Columbus police officers firing projectiles at peaceful protestors, May 30, 2020:

• Video of Columbus police officers using tear gas and chemical spray on crowd, May 30, 2020:

• Video of Columbus police officer using chemical spray against kneeling protestors, May 2020:

• Video of Columbus police bicycle officers using chemical spray against fleeing and injured protestors, May 29, 2020:

• Video of multiple Columbus police bicycle officers spraying lone protestor, May 29, 2020:

• Video of Columbus police officer ripping gas mask off of fleeing protestor’s head, May 30, 2020:

• Video of Columbus police officers congratulating officer who assaulted gas-masked protestor:

• Photograph of facial injury from wooden bullet, May 30, 2020: