ALCU files lawsuit against Columbus Police

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN)--The ACLU Of Ohio has filed a federal lawsuit against the Columbus Police Department, claiming officers used excessive force on protesters that blocked part of High Street downtown on January 30th.

The ACLU is representing three protesters in the case.

It started with a protest on the west lawn of the Statehouse to oppose President trump's executive order on immigration. Protesters then began standing in the middle of High Street, near State Street, blocking traffic. 

“Columbus Police followed our clients—peaceful demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights—and sprayed them directly in the face from not more than a few feet away. This unconstitutional use of force is part of a pattern of police misconduct,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney at the ACLU of Ohio. “ Police video shows that officers maliciously targeted our clients, even joking about who would ‘get to’ spray each person.”

Witnesses and police claim the protesters were warned multiple times that they would be using pepper spray on those that would not move from the street, where they did not have a permit to shut down the road. 

Police Chief Kim Jacobs later argued that protesters came prepared to cause trouble, by wearing gas masks to the protest. 

The ACLU lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court for Southern Ohio.