COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther is responding to claims CPD officers maced an unarmed man with prosthetic legs at a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Sunday night.
“I have seen the video and photo of the disabled man downtown last night. We are taking the matter very seriously and working diligently to find video, photos and additional information,” he tweeted.
The video of the unidentified man has gone viral on the Columbus Reddit page, but the Columbus Division of Police is emphatically denying they took the protestor’s legs.
“We absolutely did not do that,” said Columbus Police Sgt. James Fuqua told NBC4’s Mark Taylor.
On Monday, the department released body camera footage from three different officers and a fixed city camera showing the moments leading up to the incident.
The footage appears to show a man police said is the same protestor refusing to leave the intersection and throwing objects at officers, including at least two large wooden riot shields. One of those shields is caught on camera hitting an officer in the head.
“We are talking about someone who was demonstrating illegally and causing potentially a lot of bodily harm,” Fuqua said.
That’s when police said officers tried arresting the man in question.
Video shows other protestors pulling him away, and blocking officers.
“Officers did not take his legs, clearly seen in the body camera video, demonstrators would not even allow us to effect an arrest,” Fuqua said.
The man who took the viral video of the aftermath does not want to be identified. He said about the incident: “The kid was knocked down and maced, and he tried to get away. The cops had him by the ankles and once the prosthetics came loose, the kid ran up High St. on his palms. Some bystanders struggled with the police over the prosthetics for a few moments, and then they ran to catch up with him.”
Columbus Police are still trying to identify the protestor in the video, although it’s not clear if he will face charges.
Sunday night after several days of peaceful protests in the city and after several hours of peaceful demonstrations in downtown, things took a tense turn Sunday afternoon. Around 4 p.m. police started breaking up the crowd near the Ohio Statehouse with officers using their bikes and pushing them into the wooden signs protesters were holding and eventually pepper spray.
“There was not teargas used yesterday, you know the wooden bullets, the other things that we’ve said shouldn’t be used on peaceful protesters, and the only time that I’m aware that pepper spray was used was after things became much more confrontational and violent, when the scooter was thrown at the police officer, when the police officer was tackled by the crowd, but it’s really important because we want to hold people accountable if they are not following the policies and directives of the department,” Ginther said Monday.
But Sunday night Ginther tweeted saying the use of mace and pepper spray that afternoon was “appropriate.”
Ginther has encouraged anyone with videos or photos which they believe shows police misconduct to email those to reportCPD@columbus.gov, so they can be investigated.