Columbus Police Vice Officer To Be Detained Ahead Of Federal Trial
Columbus Police Vice officer Andrew Mitchell will remain in jail ahead of his federal trial. Mitchell is charged with allegedly kidnapping multiple women under the pretense of arrest and forcing them to have sex in exchange for their freedom.
At a hearing Wednesday afternoon in federal court, Judge Kimberly Jolson said pre-trial detention is an exceptional step. She says that the least restrictive conditions must be imposed on the defendant, but she must consider the nature of the alleged crimes and weight of evidence.
Jolson said she relied on Monday’s federal indictment to substantiate that those two factors lean towards detaining Mitchell. A federal grand jury charged Mitchell on seven counts, including three of depriving victims’ civil rights while acting under the color of law.
"When you have a police officer who not only commits a crime, but does so under color of law, under his authority as a police officer, that is an extraordinarily serious offense that is a nightmarish breach of trust, and that is a federal crime," said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman on Monday.
Jolson said that Mitchell's 31-year career with the Columbus Police would normally work in his favor, but that in this case, it works against him. Mitchell primarily focused on solicitation cases with the Vice Unit, which is currently under FBI investigation. Jolson said determining Mitchell’s character is "truly a grab bag."
Mitchell was relieved of duty on September, and became aware of the FBI investigation on him Sept. 26, 2018. The judge said Mitchell had a chance to cooperate but was instead duplicitous.
Mitchell's defense attorney Mark Collins argued that the officer demonstrated cooperation by complying in giving investigators a DNA sample and turning over the password to his cellphone. He also argued that Mitchell has known two of the alleged victims since 2014, because they were his tenants.
Government lawyer Jessica Kim argued for Mitchell to be detained because he is skilled at evading government as a trained officer, and that he could be a danger to the community.
Mitchell is scheduled to be arraigned next week, when U.S. Marshals will decide where to detain him.
If convicted, Mitchell faces life in prison. No state or local charges have been announced.
If you have information to share about the Vice Unit, please contact WOSU at firstname.lastname@example.org.