COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Columbus police have launched an investigation after a video went viral over the weekend of an officer saying an 11-year-old girl could be charged with producing child pornography.
According to a department statement, the incident is being investigated by the Department of the Inspector General, “which investigates complaints of misconduct and/or excessive use of force by sworn personnel.”
The video, which has not been verified by NBC4, appears to have been posted sometime Sunday. Redacted Columbus police body camera footage released Tuesday shows the same interaction.
Watch the body camera footage in the video below.
On Tuesday, Chief of Police Elaine Bryant said the officers lacked empathy and were not a reflection of the department.
“Every victim of crime deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion and decency,” Bryant said. “What I saw in that video did not reflect those actions.”
The viral video, captured by a home security system, showed two officers responding to a home at night. The 1:35 clip begins with an officer knocking on the home’s door, then knocking again after no one answers the door.
At 50 seconds into the video, a man inside the home opened the door and spoke with police. He told officers he wanted them to respond earlier in the day, but a timeframe was not specified. A caption on the video claims a call was made to police at 6, but officers didn’t respond until midnight. An investigation report filed by the officer who responded said the initial call by the man was made at 6:54 p.m. on Sept. 14; the officers responded to the call at 12:18 a.m. on Sept. 15, according to the report.
The man said he initially asked for police to respond in order to talk to the child about what the caption claims to be an online predator situation.
The man said to the officer that he realized there probably isn’t much they can do about it, which is when the police officer said, “I mean, she can probably get charged with child porn.”
The man then said the girl is 11 years old, to which the officer responded, “She’s creating it, right… It doesn’t matter. She’s still making porn.”
“No she’s not,” the man said. “She’s being manipulated by a grown-*** adult over the internet.”
“Is she still taking pictures, though?” the officer asked, at which point the man told the officers to have a nice evening and thanked them for responding to the home before going back inside.
“Are you serious right now?” the man said as the door closed. The officers then leave the property.
Bryant said as soon as she heard about the incident, an officer reached out to the family to apologize and reassure the man that detectives would investigate.
“I’ve said from the beginning, since I’ve come here, if you’re doing the right things for the right reasons, I’m going to back you and make sure that I have your back,” Bryant said. “If you do the wrong things, I’m going to hold you accountable.”
She added that the department is looking into ways to ensure officers are prepared so something like this doesn’t happen again.
The police incident report said the man who filed the complaint “immediately became upset with officers when officers attempted to explain possible outcomes,” and that the responding officers weren’t able to get any further information on the case. The report states the officer then contacted the department’s sexual assault unit to investigate.
The department’s statement also said the online incident involving the child is being investigated by sexual assault unit detectives.
Bryant said both officers remain on active duty and the department is waiting until the inspector general’s office finishes its investigation to determine what next steps are needed.