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New Date Set For Murder Trial Of Former Columbus Vice Officer Andrew Mitchell

Columbus Police Vice officer Andrew Mitchell.
Justice Department
Columbus Police Vice officer Andrew Mitchell.

The murder trial for Andrew Mitchell, the former Columbus Police Vice Unit officer who killed Donna Castleberry, has been moved once again to March.

Mitchell retired in bad standing from the Columbus Division of Police in 2019 after federal prosecutors charged him on multiple charges related to abuse of power.

He also faces state charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in the August 2018 killing of Castleberry. That case, which has been delayed for trial multiple times, was the first time in nearly a quarter century that Franklin County grand jury indicted an officer for shooting a civilian.

Mitchell shot and killed Castleberry in the back seat of his unmarked car while arresting her on prostitution charges. Former Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said that Castleberry stabbed Michell in the hand, then jumped to the back seat of the car, where Mitchell shot her six times.

O'Brien said Castleberry didn't believe Mitchell was an officer and "expressed the belief that she was being kidnapped and would be raped." Mitchell was wearing plainclothes and was not carrying the proper I.D.

In November, the city of Columbus paid $1 million to Castleberry’s family to settle a wrongful death lawsuit. It was the largest payout in the city’s history.

The FBI also alleges Mitchell kidnapped victims under the pretense of arrest and forced them to have sex in exchange for their freedom. A federal grand jury in 2019 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.

Mitchell faces a federal lawsuit accusing him of raping a woman multiple times in the back of an unmarked police vehicle. He's pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him, and is being held in federal prison in Northeast Ohio. 

Mitchell was one of several officers ensnared in a federal probe of the Columbus Police Vice Unit, which was shut down in July 2019. After being fired over the arrest of porn star Stormy Daniels, former Vice officers Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster were arrested on federal civil rights charges in March 2020.

Rosser and Lancaster were indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy to deprive a person of their civil rights, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.