COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Protesters took to the Columbus city streets for the second night in a row Wednesday, just short of 24 hours after one man allegedly made his way into Columbus Police headquarters and struck a police officer with a stick.
Both the Columbus Police Department and protesters presented their sides of what happened Tuesday night.
Wednesday saw a second night of protests after a scuffle between protesters and police Tuesday at Columbus Police headquarters.
“The purpose of this briefing is to take some time to set the fact straights about what occurred last night at the Columbus Division of police headquarters,” said Columbus Police Deputy Chief Greg Bodker during a press conference Wednesday.
Bodker said it was a peaceful night, a vigil and a march, but said things changed at 9:23 p.m. when people made their way into the building and were asked to leave.
“These four individuals did not and as they began to escort the folks out, the gentleman with the club decided to hit Sgt. Coleman,” Bodker said. “Obviously, where there is violence, we’re going to use the appropriate level of force and that’s what happened here.”
The man with the club has been identified as Hunter Mattin, 20, from Fulton County. He has been arrested.
Organizers of Tuesday night’s march said the doors should not have been locked because it is a public building, adding they were planning to use the space for a sit-in protest. They said one protester pulled on the doors, kept locked by handcuffs, and those handcuffs broke.
“A large group of police officers descended down the stairs, pushing protestors out, demanding they leave the public building,” a protester who only identified as Storm said. “Police began deploying pepper spray on to protestors without warning as protestors were attempting to leave.”
Police are looking to identify the people who would not leave the building, adding that if people want to reach police, they can do so via the contact information on the website.
“Approaching the front doors at 10 p.m. and forcing open the doors and coming in with 3-foot long wooden clubs is not the way to have a valuable conversation,” Bodker said.
Protesters held a sit-in protest Wednesday evening outside the building, listing several demands, with one protester calling for Mattin’s immediate release and all charges being dropped.
A criminal investigation is being opened up as well as an administrative investigation about the use of mace.
Police said the building is not open to public access and people are being asked to call them instead.