In Columbus Area, Officers Rarely Faulted for Use of Force


A Columbus Dispatch review of police use-of-force reports from law enforcement agencies in central Ohio found that agencies nearly always sided with their officers. Forty-three agencies provided a total of more than 3,000 records that tracked each time an officer used force — pulling a gun, firing a Taser, using Mace or wrestling someone to the ground. Officers were cleared in nearly each case, even in situations that could be questionable to a layman: A teenager forcibly handcuffed for concealing an erection; a man threatened with a Taser because he couldn't hear officer commands over the music in his ear buds; a driver stopped at gunpoint by the very police who had earlier recovered his stolen car.

Often, even cases that were found to be excessive force were later overturned during administrative appeals. In many cases in which cities paid settlements or lost lawsuits, their internal reviews still found that their officers' actions were justified. The local cases show that there are no easy answers in what has become a widening gulf between the police and the public. Experts say this is a complex issue, one warped both by public bias and the occasional corrupt officer. “The law doesn't require us to use the least amount of force,” said Chief Deputy Michael Flynn of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. “It requires us to use force that's objectively reasonable.”

Comments are closed.