The hits keep coming for the Columbus Division of Police Vice Unit.
Tuesday morning, a lawyer representing a pair of strip bar workers, filed a federal lawsuit against several of the unit’s officers.
The women were arrested last July at Sirens Gentlemen’s Club along with adult film star Stormy Daniels.
NBC 4 Investigator Tom Sussi went through the 18-page lawsuit and spoke with the lawyer who filed it on behalf of Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters. Attorney Ed Foreman of Marshall and Foreman Law Office, said Panda and Walters were falsely arrested and maliciously prosecuted. Foreman said they are the victims of an “organized and politically-motivated plan to arrest” adult film star Stormy Daniels. “
They (Vice officers) just filed these charges to cover up the arrest of Stormy Daniels,” said Foreman.
The arrests occurred July 12 while Daniels performed at the Columbus strip bar. CPD Vice arrested Daniels after she allegedly touched three Vice cops. Siren’s workers Brittany Walters and Miranda Panda were also arrested and accused of violating the state’s no-touch law in strip clubs. The law states that people who regularly work at sexually-oriented businesses, like strip clubs, cannot touch another employee or patron, or allow themselves to be touched. Eventually, charges were dropped against all three women.
Foreman said, “Some officers who formed a conspiracy in advance decided they were going to arrest Stephanie Clifford, Stormy Daniels, and because they didn’t want to look politically-motivated, they decided they were going to arrest some people as well.”
The lawsuit claims some of the Vice officers are “strong supporters of President Trump.” According to the lawsuit, one of the Vice cops regularly posted messages on his Facebook page supporting President Trump. Like, “Cops for Trump and Pence. Make America Great Again.”
“You just have officers who feel absolutely free to go out and settle political score,” said Foreman. “Go after somebody because they said negative things about the politician they like. Something is very very wrong with that unit.”
CPD would not comment on the lawsuit. City Attorney Zach Klein emailed Sussi this statement. “We’re in receipt of the complaint. We’ll review it and proceed in a course that is in the best interest of the city.”
Lately, CPD’s Vice Unit has been in the news a lot.
- In August, CPD Vice officer Andrew Mitchell shot and killed Donna Castleberry during an undercover prostitution sting, Police said the 23-year-old woman pulled a knife first and stabbed Mitchell in the hand, before he fired eight shots. Recently, CPD brass ordered Mitchell to turn in his badge and gun. Until further notice, he’s off the streets and behind a desk.
- Last month, CPD brass called a press conference and informed the media that it’s conducting a four-week review of the Unit.
- The FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force is investigating the Vice Unit, including how CPD handled the Stormy Daniels case.
- A man who claims to be an insider in Ohio’s strip bar scene filed a formal complaint with CPD and the City Attorney’s Office, accusing Vice cops of extortion, selective enforcement and entrapment.
The Feds are not commenting on the allegations or its investigation into CPD’s ViceUnit.