COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The city of Columbus will settle with a Delaware County man who claimed he suffered lasting injuries due to use of excessive force while being arrested by five Columbus police officers after a single-car accident.
Scott Osborn, 56, will receive the $200,000 settlement, resolving a legal filing that had made its way to federal court and back. Council voted Monday night unanimously to authorize the payment after city lawyers previously reached an agreement in late August.
Collision leads to arrest at center of lawsuit
Around 4 a.m. on Feb. 13, 2019, Osborn crashed into at least two vacant cars on South Yale Avenue while driving from Delaware to a home on the West Side, according to court documents. He said he hit black ice, causing him to lose control.
A number of Columbus police officers responded to the collision, with a driver telling them on the way that “someone was causing a disturbance,” according to court documents. When the first two arrived on the scene, Osborn — who had climbed out of the car — ran toward them in a state of shock.
One of the officers began to try to arrest Osborn, taking him to the ground. The city alleged he started to resist by rolling away from and kicking toward the officers. As Osborn continued to allegedly resist, one officer struck him in the torso, the other punching him in the face at least three times shortly after.
They then tased Osborn, and another officer who had arrived on the scene maced him, as he continued to resist, according to court documents. Once he was eventually in handcuffs, he was sent to Grant Medical Center.
The original lawsuit alleged Osborn suffered extensive injuries — which included “permanent vision loss, bruises and contusions, severe trauma to his head and brain, (and) physical scarring” — alongside mental and emotional harm during the course of the arrest.
Osborn faced charges of obstructing official business and resisting arrest for the incident. The resisting arrest charge was dismissed, but a judge found him guilty of obstructing official business in 2021, according to court documents.
Although the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas granted the city summary judgment on some of the claims in the original lawsuit, the excessive force and assault allegations remained and the case made its way through appeals processes.
It had been unresolved for three years, Columbus Solicitor General Rich Coglianese told Council on Monday. But the decision to settle was also made because of a judge’s ruling that would bar city attorneys from highlighting to the jury the likelihood that Osborn was driving under the influence of drugs the night of the collision.
“We believe the case becomes very difficult to defend,” Coglianese said. “The officers had a belief that the driver was acting strangely. Turns out, for good reason, they had that belief, but we were not going to be allowed to talk about that to the jury because the judge was focusing on what the officers actually knew at the time.”
All of the Columbus police officers’ actions fell within procedure, Coglianese said.
City legal settlements for year total close to $3 million so far
Before Monday, Council had authorized a number of six-figure settlements, largely in cases involving Columbus Division of Police and Fire workers since the start of 2023.
They approved $1.7 million in late April to settle with two families in unassociated wrongful death complaints. Before that, Council authorized $440,000 in an excessive force case, where a man said a 2018 Columbus police arrest performed on him resulted in a MRSA infection, and $225,000 for a woman who said she was sexually harassed by a former Columbus fire chief.
Public safety settlements have generally come out of the citywide account within its general budget, according to the text of the ordinances.