© 2023 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Columbus Police In Viral Punching Video Named In Civil Rights Lawsuit

Body camera footage shows of a Columbus Police Officer who punched a man on Heyl Avenue last week.
Columbus Police Division
Body camera footage shows of a Columbus Police Officer who punched a man on Heyl Avenue last week.

Three men who were involved in an altercation with Columbus Police earlier this year, which went viral on social media, have filed a lawsuit claiming the officers violated their civil rights.

Attorneys representing Derrick Sloan, Derrlye Sloan, and Jonathan Robinson filed the suit Monday in U.S. District Court in Columbus.

On June 7, a bystander captured video of Columbus Police officer Anthony Johnson pushing Robinson before punching him in the neck. Robinson had approached another officer who stopped his wife from entering a home during an investigation. 

Derrick Sloan was arrested at the scene along with Robinson, but charges were later dropped against both men.

Their lawsuit accuses Johnson and fellow Columbus Police officers Joseph Barsotti, Carl Harmon, Alex Mottinger, David Schultz and Bret Woodward of illegally searching Derryle Sloan’s home. It also accused the officers of wrongful arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

Columbus Police Punch A Black Male...😧

According to Columbus Police, officers were investigating a report of shots fired on Heyl Avenue on the South Side.

The lawsuit says that police officers with guns drawn approached Derryle Sloan's home and ordered all adults to leave the residence, but told children to remain inside. Police reportedly searched through the house without a warrant and seized a BB gun, but didn't find any other firearms. The lawsuit says that officers questioned the children about guns in the home, and "frightened the children, who were already confused about why the officers had removed their parents."

Jahanara Robinson, the wife of Jonathan, then arrived on the scene with two toddlers. The lawsuit says that she got permission to enter the house to retrieve the other children, but was blocked by another officer with a firearm. Jonathan Robinson then approached the officer, who told him to "get back."

Johnson approached Robinson with a shotgun, ordering him to step away. Johnson then shoved Robinson backward with one hand, and punches him in the face.

In body camera footage of the June incident, released by Columbus Police, video shows that after Johnson punches Robinson, another officer runs over and tackles Robinson to the ground. One bystander shouts, "he did nothing," while Robinson is handcuffed on the ground.

An officer can be heard saying, "I don't know what makes you think it would be a good idea to square off with an officer."

Robinson was charged with obstructing official business and disorderly conduct. Derrick Sloan, who had been recording the incident on his cell phone, was pepper sprayed by officers, who arrested and charged him with obstructing official business.

Shots Fired Incident June 7, 2019

A police review board later cleared Johnson of any wrongdoing, although he agreed to meet with Robinson to talk about what happened.

The lawsuit seeks $150,000 in damages each for Robinson and Derrick Sloan, and $50,000 in damages for Derryle Sloan, plus additional costs.

Columbus Police say they do not comment on ongoing litigation.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.
Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.