COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Only one more officer will be investigated for misconduct in connection with citizen complaints filed after the protests following George Floyd’s death in the summer of 2020, the Columbus Chief of Police said Tuesday.
According to a statement from Columbus Chief of Police Elaine Bryant, the investigation will be the last in connection with the protests, effectively closing the investigations into police misconduct, and will be conducted by the Internal Affairs Bureau.
According to Bryant, the complaint against an unnamed sergeant would be the only investigation because the complaint was under criminal investigation.
Due to the city’s contract with the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, all investigations into allegations of police misconduct must be completed within 90 days of receiving the complaint. However, when a complaint is being investigated for criminal wrongdoing, that 90-day period is paused until the criminal investigation is finished. According to the statement, that investigation was closed on May 27, 2022.
At that time, Special Prosecutor Brad Nicodemus and Special Prosecutor Kathleen Garber with the Columbus City Attorney’s Office said in a statement they could not file any more misdemeanor charges stemming from alleged police mistreatment of protesters.
However, Bryant says in her statement that on June 10, Garber sent her office a document entitled “Referrals for Administrative Discipline.” Bryant said she began investigating these referrals and determined only one complaint — the one filed against the sergeant — could be investigated.
Bryant’s full statement is below:
“In June of 2020 the city received citizen complaints related to the conduct of Division of Police sworn personnel during civil unrest in late May and early June of that year. Deputy Director Richard Wozniak and Special Prosecutor Kathleen Garber were hired to investigate these incidents to determine if criminal charges would be sought against any of the involved Columbus Division of Police sworn personnel. As a result of these investigations and review by Special Prosecutor Kathleen Garber, criminal charges were filed in 2021 against one Columbus Police sergeant and two officers. These criminal cases are pending in Franklin County Municipal Court.
Special Prosecutor Garber sent a document to my office on the evening of June 10, 2022, titled “Referrals for Administrative Discipline.” I immediately put together a team to analyze the referrals to determine which, if any, would or could be investigated further. Any administrative investigation of these incidents must comply with Division policy and the current collective bargaining agreement between the City and the Fraternal Order of Police. That agreement mandates that investigations occur within 90 days of receipt of the complaint.
After a thorough review of the investigative materials provided, it was determined that one complaint is within the 90-day deadline stipulated in the collective bargaining contract. This case fell within that deadline because it was under criminal investigation, which stops the clock on the 90-day deadline until conclusion of the criminal investigation, which happened on May 27, 2022.
That complaint involving a sergeant’s actions was forwarded to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation. There will not be any further administrative investigations related to the remaining referrals.”
Three Columbus police officers — Officer Traci Shaw, Sergeant Holly Kanode and Officer Phillip Walls — are currently charged with misdemeanors related to police misconduct during the protests.
- Shaw faces three counts each of assault, dereliction of duty and interfering with civil rights. She is accused of pepper-spraying individuals who were walking away from the protest area.
- Kanode faces one charge of falsification and dereliction of duty. Body camera footage shows Kanode assisting in the arrest of a protester and telling another officer that the person grabbed a third officer and jerked him to the ground. Other video did not show this happening.
- Walls is facing two counts each of assault, dereliction of duty, and interfering with civil rights. Body camera footage shows Walls pepper-spraying protesters who are standing on a sidewalk. Click this link to watch the footage.
After a motion to have the judge removed from the trial was rejected by the Ohio Supreme Court, Kanode’s trial is set to resume Wednesday. Shaw has a trial scheduled for July 18 while Walls has a jury trial scheduled for Aug. 16.
In a Tweet, FOP President Jeff Simpson called the special prosecutor’s investigation an “attack on our city police in Columbus, OH.” Brian Steel, FOP executive vice president, replied to Simpson’s tweet saying “Chief Bryant saw right through it.”