Columbus police use excessive force against black residents, lawsuit says

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus police continue to use excessive force against residents and, in particular, black residents nearly 20 years after the government sued over similar allegations, according to a federal lawsuit filed against the city.

The department also fails to properly train, supervise, monitor and discipline officers who use excessive force, said the civil rights complaint filed Sunday on behalf of defendant Timothy Davis.

At issue is the Sept. 1 arrest of Davis inside a Columbus convenience store where officers tried to arrest him on a warrant alleging he assaulted an officer last year.

The lawsuit was filed as unrest continues in St. Louis after a white former police officer was acquitted in the killing of a black suspect.

A booking photo of Timothy Davis from his Sept. 1 arrest.


Monday morning, a racially mixed crowd of demonstrators locked arms and marched quietly through downtown St. Louis to protest a judge’s announcement that he found Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The march came one day after hundreds of riot police mobilized in downtown St. Louis, arresting more than 80 people and seizing weapons amid reports of property damage and vandalism. The arrests came after demonstrators ignored orders to disperse, police said.

In the Ohio case, cellphone video of the arrest showed officers struggling to subdue Davis and eventually punching and kicking him. Afterward, police spokesman Sgt. Dean Worthington said use of force depends on a suspect’s behavior and police policy does allow for punching and kicking.

Officers at the scene shielded fellow officers attacking Davis to keep witnesses from seeing and tried to cover up what happened by falsely claiming Davis put them in harm, the lawsuit said.

Davis’ mother, Valerie Davis Johnson, told CBS Columbus affiliate WBNS-TV her son suffered kidney damage from the incident. “I was totally, totally shocked. I totally got sick. I was sickened…very sickened,” said Johnson. “We’re not out for revenge. But we are out for justice. That I want done.”

Last week, police chief Kimberly Jacobs said an officer was pulled from patrol duties over comments he made during Davis’ arrest. “I’m going to choke the life out of you,” the officer said at one point, referring to how he would have handled the arrest.

Jacobs said she was appalled by the inappropriate and unprofessional comments made by…

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