Columbus Police Can’t Use Rubber Bullets On Protesters, Judge Rules

On Friday (April 30) a federal judge banned police in Columbus, Ohio from using tear gas and rubber bullets on peaceful protesters, stating officers in the department have “run amok.” 

Police use of force on peaceful protesters is “the sad tale of officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok,” Chief Judge Algenon L. Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio wrote in an 88-page opinion first obtained by a local NBC affiliate outlet. 

In addition to prohibiting tear gas and rubber bullets, officers will be prohibited from using flash-bang grenades, body slamming, or kettling protesters who are nonviolent. Police officers who patrol protests are also required to make sure body cameras are in “good working order,” and allow anyone who identifies themselves as media personnel or a legal observer to record the protest and help people who are injured. 

Marbley’s ruling follows a lawsuit filed by 26 people who accused Columbus police officers of using excessive force on nonviolent protesters during demonstrations last summer. 

“We are pleased that the Court recognized the truth of the overwhelming testimony, shocking videos, and heart-wrenching pictures and issued an injunction which protects people from the police,” Sean Walton, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told The Washington Post

The ruling comes only weeks after Columbus police shot and killed 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant. In that time, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein sought an investigation from the US Department of Justice into the city’s policing practices, much like the investigations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

“This is not about one particular officer, policy, or incident; rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus,” Ginther and Klein wrote in a letter, per a report by The Hill. “Simply put: We need to change the culture of the Columbus Division of Police.”

Community members, too, have been advocating for an investigation into the city’s police department, which has been the center of several high profile police-involved shootings, and is among the deadliest cities for police shootings. Last December, police officers in Columbus killed Casey Goodson, Jr. and Andre Hill.

Photos: Getty Images 

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