Faces of the people in the article

Officers from let to right are Bryan Mason, Jason Bare, Zachary Rosen, Thomas DeWitt, and Debra Paxton -- all still working for CDP. Only the last officer, Andrew K. Mitchell, is not, but he wasn't fired for misconduct, he retired. 

The protesters in our streets have spurred action by our local and state leaders, and it’s long overdue considering the Columbus Division of Police (CDP) officers who have killed our neighbors are still on the force and facing no indictments.

Mayor Ginther has taken action on a few fronts: Ginther signed an executive order last week that would require all police killings and uses of lethal force to be investigated by Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations working under the Ohio Attorney General, ordering tear gas and mace to no longer be used against peaceful protestors, announcing that Columbus will join the ‘8 can’t wait’ campaign, and establishing a panel to advise Chief Thomas Quinlan.

But what about the CDP officers who have killed Columbus residents yet still work for CDP and facing no indictments? It is often said there are only a few “bad apples” tarnishing the entire force.

Although Ginther didn’t specify whether these independent investigations on CDP would include reopening ones from the past, perhaps it would be beneficial to set a new precedent by seeking out justice for the unheard victims of CDP.

Keep in mind in over 20 years, only one case of police misconduct – from within the VICE unit – resulted in indictments, yet from 2013 to 2019, CDP killed 40 people, 27 of whom were black.

Here are some of the officers who have been in the national spotlight for their violent conduct, yet were never indicted or fired from CDP:

Officer Bryan Mason. In 2016, Mason shot and killed 13-year-old Tyre King while King was running away. Mason was responding to a $10 robbery and thought King fit the description of the suspect. Mason claimed King reached for a BB gun, but the autopsy showed 13-year-old Tyre King was running away when he was shot three times. In Mason’s nine years on the force prior to the shooting, he had been investigated at least 60 times, 25 of those resulted in a victim requiring medical attention. He had shot two other Columbus residents prior, one who was running away and survived to tell the story (and to be ignored by CDP), and the other was killed for not putting down a gun quick enough. Of all these repeated instances of force, shooting, and killing, not a single one resulted in an indictment or Mason being fired.

Officer Jason Bare. In 2016, Bare and Officer Zachary Rosen were in an unmarked SUV with tinted windows wearing civilian clothes when they saw Henry Green and his friend walking home with a gun visible. Even though Ohio is an open-carry state, they called it in, drove up, hopped out and started firing at Green, killing him. Bare used to work at a juvenile detention center where he received a reprimand for leaving a suicidal prisoner alone. He admitted to drunk driving on almost 10 occasions to CDP before getting hired. An internal committee took issue with his pattern of force, sending a memo to a sergeant who simply dismissed the findings and recommendations without doing anything about it. Bare once tased someone he thought was a “suspect,” who turned out to be a runaway child. In 2014, Bare responded to a medical call and after he saw a neighbor give him the middle finger, attempted to break down his door then tackled him while calling the man names like “dope dealer.” His superiors backed him up in every case and not once was he anywhere close to being indicted.

Officer Zachary Rosen. Rosen was the first to start shooting Henry Green in 2016 when he jumped out of the SUV (the program they were a part of was often referred to as the “jumpout boys” because of this). In 2015, a citizen told Rosen that his car was parked in a fire lane. Rosen “consciously and purposely” followed the citizen until finding a legal excuse for pulling him over, ticketing him for “failing to signal.” Rosen later said, “I want(ed) to know who this guy is, maybe he hates police.” Superiors say he “did not exhibit proper conduct and self-control” and recommended non-documented verbal counseling (which is nothing). Rosen in 2017 stomped on a handcuffed suspect’s head before kneeling on him. Because it was caught on video, Rosen was fired. However, he was later given his job back with $55,880 of back pay.

Officer Thomas DeWitt. In 2012, DeWitt and Officer Debra Paxton pulled up to OSU student Joseph Hines and his two best friends asking to see Hines’ ID. Hines said he didn’t have it. DeWitt grabbed his arm as Paxton grabbed her handcuffs. Hines jerked his arm back and the two officers tackled him and started to beat him as Hines yelled, “I can’t breathe, stop!” One of the officer’s responded “Shut the f--- up!” Hines lost consciousness and was hospitalized for three days with mild brain damage, a concussion, facial contusions, and diagnosed PTSD. Hines, the college student who was beaten for not having an ID on him, was somehow charged with six crimes, eventually reduced to a $100 littering fine. Officer DeWitt had 40 complaints filed against him prior to this incident. He wasn’t fired or indicted.

Officer Debra Paxton. Paxton was the other officer involved in the beating of Joseph Hines. The same year (2012) Paxton shot and killed 21-year-old Francis Owens when her partner was fighting with Owens. Paxton had 14 complaints filed prior to beating Hines. It was recommended Paxton be monitored and be given remedial training after there were 13 investigations in six months over her excessive use of mace.

One of the three CDP vice officers who were indicted over the past year (first instance of an indictment of CDP in over 20 years), former CDP Vice officer, Andrew K. Mitchell, kidnapped and raped multiple women who he handcuffed under the threat of arrest while in civilian clothes and an unmarked car. He also killed Donna Dalton in 2018 during a prostitution sting and his three-decade career is being investigated in depth to find what else he’s done. Mitchell was also a landlord who exploited sex worker tenants who couldn’t afford to pay rent by using sex as a payment under the threat of eviction. He faced seven federal charges in 2019 and somehow still hadn’t been fired yet. He eventually turned in a retirement letter after his arrest. The Ohio Police and Fire Pension Board are debating whether he gets his retirement benefits. Chief Quinlan disbanded the CPD Vice unit in 2019.
If police departments only have a problem with just a few “bad apples,” why are all of these bad apples still working for police departments?

Maybe it’s not an issue of bad apples at all. In every case, powerful police unions, corrupt internal investigations, friendly prosecutors, and every level of the state backs up these "bad apples." The officers listed are just some of the ones the public is aware of, but CDP’s union contract restricts public knowledge of police brutality. We still don’t know what officer killed 16-year-old Julius Tate, but his teenage girlfriend is serving three years for involuntary manslaughter, even though she wasn’t there.

From deliberate manipulation of backgrounds during the hiring process of CDP officers, to CDP files being routinely destroyed every four years, it appears that adding additional rules for the officers to follow, then break, will result in the same violence and dismissal of justice.

After Gov. DeWine’s announced police reforms this week, Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) was stunned by DeWine’s initiative.

Sykes said the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus (OLBC) had been introducing similar legislation and suggestions for years with no action taken by the rest of the Ohio legislature and had no say in the new announcement.

“Black lawmakers weren’t consulted or given the opportunity to offer input on the governor’s recommendations. In fact, the first contact the governor had with OLBC regarding these recommendations was on a conference call just hours before today’s announcement. These are not the recommendations of Black lawmakers – far from it… They think they have the answers to hundreds of years of racism, brutality and oppression. They do not.”

The large structural changes that protesters are calling for seem to be the only path forward to end both police brutality and the problems that create a supposed need for police in the first place.

The calls to “defund the police” at first seemed extreme, but if those funds are invested in preventing crime through investing in education and communities, while what’s left of police are trained in groups to deal with specific scenarios (domestic violence, mental illness, etc.), maybe we can start to plan a brighter future.