Bond Set At $1 Million For Former Columbus Officer Andrew Mitchell
A Franklin County judge has set a $1 million bond for former Columbus Police Vice Unit officer Andrew Mitchell, who is charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 shooting death of Donna Castleberry.
In August 2018, the 31-year veteran officer shot and killed Castleberry in the back seat of his unmarked car. According to prosecutors, Castleberry stabbed Mitchell in the hand while he arrested her on prostitution charges, then jumped to the back seat of the car, where Mitchell shot her six times.
However, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien says Castleberry didn't believe Mitchell was an officer, and "expressed the belief that she was being kidnapped and would be raped." At the time, Mitchell was wearing plain clothes - a practice the department since ceased - and was not carrying the proper I.D.
About 70 protesters gathered outside of the Franklin County Courthouse on Friday in opposition to Mitchell's release.
Castleberry’s sister Tiffiny Dalton says the crowd's showing was significant.
“This whole group right here is the last minute,” Dalton says. “Surprisingly how many people showed up, which I’m so grateful for.”
Protester and teacher Emily Vanness said she wants change.
“It’s just really embarrassing what the Vice Unit has been doing,” Vanness says. “We’ve known about this for a long time. Like this has been going on for years.”
Mitchell retired in bad standing from the Columbus Division of Police in March 2019 after being charged by federal prosecutors on multiple charges unrelated to the Castleberry shooting. The FBI alleges Mitchell kidnapped victims under the pretense of arrest and forced them to have sex in exchange for their freedom.
A federal grand jury indicted Mitchell on three federal counts of depriving individuals of their civil rights while acting under the color of law; two counts of witness tampering; one count of making false statements to federal agreements; two counts of obstruction of justice; and one count of destroying or removing property to prevent seizure.
In January, a federal lawsuit accused Mitchell of raping an unnamed woman on multiple occasions in the back of an unmarked police vehicle.
Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to all charges. His state trial is scheduled to start in late August.
Currently, Mitchell is being held at a federal correction center in Northwest Ohio.
An FBI investigation of the Vice Unit, which was disbanded in March 2019, is still ongoing.
If you have information to share about the Vice Unit, contact WOSU at firstname.lastname@example.org.