The List: Tracking five years of damning stories out of CPD

Since 2016, the Columbus Division of Police has generated a steady stream of headlines that have kept public pressure for reform on the beleaguered department

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
FlightAware aircraft tracking showed this flight pattern by a Columbus police division helicopter that spelled out "CPD" pattern flying over an East Side residential neighborhood early Saturday morning.

Columbus police officers John Kotchkoski and Marco Merino were arrested in late September on federal charges in which the two were accused of trafficking in cocaine and fentanyl. The arrests, which followed a year-long sting involving the FBI, are just the latest in a string of damning stories about the Columbus Division of Police, keeping public pressure for reform on the beleaguered department. Here’s a timeline of just some of the CPD actions over the last five years that have drawn widespread criticism and calls for change from citizen groups and elected officials.

June 6, 2016: Two plainclothes Columbus police officers shoot and kill Henry Green 

Officers Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare emerged from a white SUV dressed in casual clothes and opened fire on Green, striking the 23-year-old seven times, killing him. Bare and Rosen said they witnessed Green “brandishing” a gun, and claimed that Green shot at them first, forcing them to return fire. The case is still active in court.

Sept. 15, 2016: Columbus police shoot and kill 13-year-old Ty’re King

Officer Bryan Mason shot and killed King while responding to reports of an armed robbery, claiming that the teenager removed a BB gun from his waistband, which led the officer to open fire.

April 8, 2017: Officer Zachary Rosen is filmed kicking a handcuffed suspect in the head

This assault, which even drew the condemnation of Mayor Andrew Ginther (“The behavior we saw in the video was unacceptable and inconsistent with our values as a community”) occurred roughly a month after a grand jury declined to indict Rosen and fellow officer Jason Bare for the 2016 shooting death of Henry Green.

June 17, 2017: The Black Pride 4

During the 2017 Pride Parade, a group of demonstrators briefly blocked traffic to protest the June 16 acquittal of the Minnesota police officer who killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop. The group also hoped “to raise awareness about the violence against and erasure of black and brown queer and trans people, in particular the lack of space for black and brown people at Pride festivals, and the 14 trans women of color who have already been murdered [in the United States] this year.” Amid these actions, four black protesters were arrested: Wriply Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton and Deandre Miles, who came to be known as the Black Pride 4 and helped create an ongoing reckoning within the local community.

June 27, 2017: Officer Eric Moore is reinstated by CPD

Following a yearlong investigation into a 2014 claim that Moore had used racial slurs and threatened to kill two Black officers, he was stripped of his powers on Oct. 1, 2015 for… improperly claiming more than $10,000 in overtime. Regardless, an arbitrator later ruled in Moore’s favor, reinstating him to his prior position, complete with back pay and benefits compensation.

July 11, 2018: Vice officers arrest adult film star Stormy Daniels at Sirens Gentlemen's Club

Stephanie Clifford, who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, was arrested during a vice operation. She was released within hours and all of the charges were quickly dropped. Five officers faced disciplinary action following the arrest, and the entire vice unit was eventually disbanded following investigations triggered by these events.

July 25, 2018: Sgt. Dean P. Worthington, who served as the division’s spokesman, is indicted on four counts related to child pornography

Worthington resigned and pleaded guilty to the charges. In January of 2019, despite the Franklin County prosecutor’s office and the court’s probation department recommending prison, Worthington was sentenced to 90 days in county jail with a $5,000 fine and five years of probation.

Aug. 23, 2018: Officer Andrew Mitchell shoots and kills Donna Dalton

Mitchell, who was working undercover as a vice officer at the time, alleged that he shot Dalton in the midst of a prostitution sting following a confrontation in which he said Dalton had stabbed him in the hand. Federal authorities later arrested Mitchell and accused him of kidnapping women “under the guise of making an arrest” and forcing them to have sex with him to gain release. Mitchell was later indicted on murder and voluntary manslaughter charges for the killing of Dalton.

March 31, 2020: Two former vice officers are charged with conspiring to commit wire fraud and conspiring to violate others’ civil rights 

Officers Whitney Lancaster and Stephen Rosen, both with the controversial and since-disbanded vice unit, were charged by a federal grand jury for, among other things, collecting money for special duty shifts at Fort Rapids Indoor Water Park Resort while simultaneously reporting they were on-duty working regularly scheduled shifts with CPD.

May 30, 2020: CPD officers pepper spray Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce during a Black lives matter protest Downtown

Speaking with Alive on the day of the incident, Hardin called the police actions unnecessary. “I saw police that were not showing as much restraint as what the moment required,” he said. This would become a regular refrain coming from those who attended social justice protests in the city throughout the summer, where police actions would eventually lead to three officers facing misdemeanor charges.

June 1, 2020: The Antifa bus saga

On social media, Columbus police posted a photo of a bus detained the previous day by officers, as well as a description of some of its contents, including “bats, rocks, meat cleavers, axes, clubs and other projectiles.” In reality, the bus, nicknamed Buttercup, was home to some hippie circus performers. The rocks were healing crystals, the clubs for juggling, and the meat cleaver and ax for prepping dinner and cutting wood, respectively. The story, broken by Alive, would eventually go national, getting mentions on shows such as “Late Night with Seth Meyers." Despite the attention, CPD never corrected the record or altered its social media posts.

Oct. 1, 2020: Officer Raymond Rose III arrested and charged with child pornography

A Franklin County Grand Jury indicted Rose with one count of illegal use of a minor or impaired person in nudity-oriented material or performance, a second-degree felony; one count of pandering sexuallyoriented matter involving a minor or impaired person, a second-degree felony; and one count of gross sexual imposition, a third-degree felony.

Oct. 26, 2020: Columbus City Council votes to pay a $475,000 settlement to African American police officer Karl Shaw

Shaw said he faced retaliation for reporting racism and other misconduct, some of it at the hands of Eric Moore, who was reinstated by CPD in 2017 after being stripped of his powers in 2015 for improperly claiming more than $10,000 in overtime. In Shaw’s suit, he accused Moore of calling two Black officers the n-word and threatening to kill them in 2014.

Dec. 22, 2020: Officer Adam Coy shoots and kills Andre Hill

Less than a week after killing Hill, an unarmed guest of the home outside of which he was confronted by police, Coy was fired from his position with CPD. Then in February, Coy was indicted on counts of murder, felonious assault and reckless homicide. A trial date for Coy has been set for March 2022.

April 17, 2021: Columbus police helicopter goes on a skywriting joyride

What’s a bored police pilot to do? Why, spell out “CPD” in the air above sleeping Columbus citizens, of course. The actions drew criticism from many, including Columbus City Council president pro tempore Elizabeth Brown, who wrote on Twitter that she was "beyond frustrated" with the flight path, though a later CPD internal review found no misconduct.

April 20, 2021: Columbus police shoot and kill Ma’Khia Bryant

Officer Nicholas Reardon shot and killed Bryant, 16, during an incident in which the teenager threatened another female with a knife. In the days and weeks that followed, some of the discussion centered on issues including police training and de-escalation

June 9, 2021: Three CPD officers are charged for their actions during the Black lives matter protests of 2020

The charges against officers Traci Shaw and Phillip Walls were related to pepper spraying passersby, while Sgt. Holly Kanode was charged with one count of falsification and one count of dereliction of duty for falsifying a use-of-force report tied to an arrest.

Sept. 22, 2021: Three Columbus police officers plead guilty to “double dipping”

William R. McCague, Robert A. Thissen and Joseph A. Townsend each pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor count of dereliction of duty as part of a plea deal that included an agreement to retire. The three officers had been accused of double dipping, simultaneously working special duty for private employers while on the clock with the city.

Sept. 28, 2021: Two Columbus police officers are arrested and charged with drug trafficking

You’re up to date. For now, anyway.