Columbus police 'ran amok' during BLM protests, judge rules

Police in Ohio's capital city have been ordered to stop using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against nonviolent protesters after a federal judge ruled officers ran 'amok' last year during BLM protests. 

Judge Algenon Marbley issued an 88-page opinion on Friday describing the actions of Columbus police during last summer's protests as 'the sad tale of officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok'.

Columbus Police have been in the spotlight of late after a rookie officer shot dead 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant last month after body cam footage showed her attempting to stab two woman moments earlier.  

Marbley's ruling was in response to a federal lawsuit filed by 26 protesters who argued they were targeted by police without provocation starting last May as they protested the police killing of George Floyd.

In his preliminary injunction, Marbley ruled in favor of the protesters, saying that most participants were peacefully protesting or observing when they fell victim to such nonlethal responses by officers.

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Judge Algenon Marbley issued an 88-page opinion on Friday saying Columbus Police 'ran amok' during last year's BLM protests

Judge Algenon Marbley issued an 88-page opinion on Friday saying Columbus Police 'ran amok' during last year's BLM protests

'Many of these instances of force were without provocation or applied at random and indiscriminately,' Marbley wrote. 

'There is a mountain of evidence that some protestors were confronted with less-lethal munitions while trying to follow police orders to leave the demonstrations.'  

As part of his ruling, police in Columbus have now been ordered to stop using some of those tactics, including rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas, on nonviolent protesters who are not harming people or destroying property.  

Judge Algenon Marbley has ruled in favor of protesters who filed a federal lawsuit against the city.  In his preliminary injunction, he ordered police to stop using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against nonviolent protesters

Judge Algenon Marbley has ruled in favor of protesters who filed a federal lawsuit against the city.  In his preliminary injunction, he ordered police to stop using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against nonviolent protesters

Marbley also said police can not inflict pain to punish or deter protesters and must ensure body-worn and cruiser cameras are working and badge numbers are visible even when officers are wearing riot gear.

He also said individuals clearly identifying themselves as reporters, medics or legal observers must be allowed to record protests and help injured people.

At issue in the federal lawsuit was the city's response to protests that began in late May after the death of Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was last month convicted of killing the black man.

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Columbus protests lasted multiple days downtown, near Ohio State University and across other parts of the city. The first night, protesters smashed windows at the Ohio Statehouse and at businesses throughout downtown.

In a separate episode, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty was hit by pepper spray as scuffles broke out near the end of a May demonstration.

The lawsuit, which was filed in July on behalf of more than two dozen protesters, sought monetary damages for injuries sustained in clashes with police after Floyd's death.

A multi-day

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