COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A special prosecutor hired by the City of Columbus to investigate police misconduct during protests in the summer of 2020 has resigned.
Attorney Kathleen Garber told NBC4 in an email that she submitted her letter of resignation, effective immediately, to the City Attorney’s office Wednesday. Garber was hired on a $15,000 contract in August 2020 alongside retired FBI agent Richard Wozniak to lead an independent investigation into Columbus police response and actions during protests after the death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.
The two-year investigation led to three Columbus police officers charged with misdemeanors:
- Officer Traci Shaw, with three counts each of assault, dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights.
- Sergeant Holly Kanode, with one charge each of falsification and dereliction of duty.
- Officer Phillip Walls, with two counts each of assault, dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights.
Garber’s resignation came the same day all charges against Shaw were dismissed after the complainant agreed to settle the case outside of court. A Franklin County Judge found Kanode not guilty last Thursday. Walls is scheduled to go on trial next month.
Garber had filed to remove the judge presiding over Kanode and Shaw’s trials, Judge James P. O’Grady, claiming he admitted bias for CPD and the Fraternal Order of Police. The request was reviewed by the Ohio Supreme Court and denied.
Special Prosecutor Brad Nicodemus, who joined Garber toward the end of her two-year investigation to help prosecute police misconduct, announced in May that they would not be filing any further charges against Columbus police officers.
“Upon the review of the incidents still needing a determination for charges, there is insufficient evidence to obtain convictions at trial,” Nicodemus said. “Therefore, I will not be filing any additional charges from the May 2020 protest incidents.”
Garber told NBC4 in May that being unable to identify police officers was the “biggest obstacle” to holding them accountable in the “vast majority” of her investigations.
When prosecutors called on 60 officers to answer questions about the 2020 protests after the death of George Floyd, only six of them agreed to do so, according to the city’s Department of Public Safety. Five police officers did so only after being guaranteed that they would not face prosecution.
“Not only has this delayed and in some cases, obstructed prosecution, but it has contributed to the distrust that the community has in our officers and the legal system,” Garber said.
Columbus Chief of Police Elaine Bryant announced on July 12 that the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau will investigate the actions of one other officer.
Since Garber was hired in August 2020, City Council extended her contract and pay grade several times. The initial $15,000 contract was doubled to $30,000 in January 2021, and in April 2021, another $50,000 was tacked on. She received another $8,000 in November, and the City Council approved a $50,000 increase in May, bringing the contract to $138,000.