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Council Statements on Racial Discrimination Settlement Shaw Case Shows Deep Flaws in Police Oversight

$475K Settlement Headed to Council on October 26

[COLUMBUS, OH] The City of Columbus and Police Officer Karl Shaw reached an agreement to settle a lawsuit over allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation within the Columbus Division of Police.  Council is scheduled to vote on the ordinance authorizing payment of $475,000 at the October 26, 2020 meeting. 

“As a nation, we are challenging implicit bias and taking a hard look at ourselves as a society. This also means examining our own systems,” said Councilmember and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee Shayla Favor. “Black police officers who take an oath to protect the life and liberty of their communities far too often are muted, voiceless, subjugated and marginalized if they courageously speak their truth. This is a tragedy for our City and the country. It is our duty to create a safe space for every resident who seeks justice and reform.”

Shaw filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division alleging that the Division of Police intentionally discriminated against him because of his race and retaliated against him when the Division failed to allow him to take a position in narcotics. 

“This settlement is an expensive symptom of systematic racism, costing taxpayers $475,000,” said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. “This is why reforms like Issue 2 are needed to give residents a say in the discipline process of the Division of Police.”

“Three things are clear in this case,” continued Council President Hardin. “First, black officers face not only racist managers but also unfairly applied policies that block their careers. Second, an extensive investigation conducted by CPD, with over 200 pages of findings, wasn’t enough to hold an officer accountable for misconduct and racist language. Third, despite the disturbing facts of the case, the Police union fought for the offending officer to get his job back through arbitration. The case is not about a single officer -- it reflects that the Division of Police cannot police itself and that we need better systems of accountability.”

On the November ballot for Columbus voters is Issue 2. It provides residents the opportunity to amend the City Charter to create a Civilian Police Review Board with the authority to launch and carry out investigations of alleged police misconduct, subpoena testimony and evidence during the investigations, make recommendations to the Division of Police, and appoint and manage the new position of Inspector General for the Division of Police.