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Columbus Has Paid $5.4 Million To Settle Police-Related Lawsuits In Last Decade

Columbus Police cruiser vehicle
Adora Namigadde

In the last 10 years, Columbus City Council has approved almost $5.4 million in payments to settle 35 civil lawsuits related to the Division Of Police.

Council members on Monday signed off on a $185,000 settlement with six former strip club dancers who claim they were wrongfully arrested by Vice officers. The women, who performed at the now-closed Kahoots, say former Columbus Police officers Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster targeted them as retaliation for the club firing a police informant.

According to public records, this is the third city settlement connected to the now-shuttered Vice Unit. Last year, Columbus paid $450,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to performers Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, who sued the city after being arrested by Vice officers at the Sirens strip club in July 2018.

Columbus fired Rosser and Lancaster, who were also involved in those arrests, in January. Both officers have appealed the decision.

Timeline: Investigation Of Columbus Police Vice Unit

Since 2010, Columbus has settled 13 civil lawsuits accusing officers of excessive use of force, including three that involved an officer shooting a suspect or bystander.

In the last decade, the city also settled eight suits from people injured in police-related car crashes.

The highest single settlement, for $950,000, came in March 2010. Derris Lewis and his mother April sued the city of Columbus for malicious prosecution, false arrest and false imprisonment, after Derris was arrested in the murder of his twin brother Dennis. Authorities later dropped all charges against Derris, who claims he suffered PTSD as a result of the experience.

In 2016, the city paid $780,000 to the family of a four-year-old girl accidentally shot in the thigh by an officer.

A Council spokeswoman says recommendations for settlement amounts come from the City Attorney's Office. Columbus City Council then takes up an ordinance to allocate the money.

“The City Attorney’s office bases settlement decisions after carefully comparing the facts of each case to the applicable law," said City Attorney Zach Klein in a written statement. "The decision to ultimately settle is based on a variety of factors, including justice and fairness to an aggrieved party, potential liability, and protection of taxpayer dollars. It is also important to note that City of Columbus settlements are generally lower than most other cities of comparable size.”

Below is a list of recipients for police-related settlements reached by Columbus City Council since 2010.












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.