Home State News Three protesters file suit against Columbus police

Three protesters file suit against Columbus police

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Three people protesting against President Donald Trump’s travel ban in downtown Columbus earlier this year said city police officers intentionally hit them in face with pepper spray, allegations that can be proven with comments recorded by the officers’ body cameras, a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday alleged.

The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio seeks money damages, attorney fees and an order stopping Columbus police from using excessive force.

The lawsuit names Police Chief Kim Jacobs, a police lieutenant and three unnamed officers.

A spokeswoman for Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said Wednesday the city doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, the three plaintiffs, 29-year-old Ellen Abdur-Rahim, of Columbus; 18-year-old Harrison Kallner, of New Albany; and 18-year-old Connor Lefevers, of Worthington, were sprayed by officers from inches away.  Abdur-Rahim alleged her contact lenses were fused to her eyes and that a city emergency medical crew refused to treat her.

The demonstration occurred Jan. 30 near the Ohio Statehouse.  No protesters were arrested during what had been a peaceful protest that evening, the lawsuit said.

After several hours into the protest, a group of seven officers followed the orders of Lt. Jeffrey Lipp to spray over the thinning crowed to disperse the demonstrators, the lawsuit said.

According to the complaint, Abdur-Rahim initially covered her face with her hijab, a Muslim head covering, and walked away. She claims an officer put his hand on her shoulder and sprayed her directly in the face. The lawsuit claims one of the unnamed officers later told other officers, “I wanted that chick to get it and she got it,” prompting laughter from his colleagues.

The lawsuit said Harrison also was sprayed after walking away and that a woman offered him breast milk to flush his eyes.

Lefevers, a high school student who was with his mother at the protest, said he was holding a “peace” sign and smiling at police when he was sprayed in the face. The lawsuit said one officer said, “I call that guy first.” The teen’s mother took him to a hospital for medical attention.

 

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