Congresswoman Joyce Beatty says federal investigation into Columbus Police is necessary
On Wednesday, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Columbus Division of Police following the deadly police shooting of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant.
In his request, Ginther said he wants the DOJ's review to encompass all police operations and identify any and all racial biases in policing efforts.
Congresswoman Joyce Beatty said in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that the federal investigation is necessary to confront "systemic failings, longstanding issues, and restore the public's confidence in those who have sworn to protect and serve them."
In the letter, Beatty lists the names of Henry Green V, Tyre King, Miles Jackson, Andre Hill, Casey Goodson Jr., and Bryant, who were all killed by law enforcement. She said while the patterns in each of their deaths differ, she said she believes they were all avoidable.
"While the fact patterns in each case differ – some were involved in dangerous confrontations, others were completely innocent of wrongdoing, some were just children – all, I believe, were avoidable. All were tragedies in their own way. One undeniable constant is that they were all lives of Black members of my community cut short at the hands of police," Beatty said.
She said as a result of these deaths, trust in law enforcement has been severely damaged. Beatty said the loss of trust also stems from a 2019 study that found the Columbus Division of Police demonstrated "a significant disparity of use of force against minority residents."
In her letter to Garland, Beatty said she personally experienced Columbus Police's "heavy-handed tactics" at a protest last summer. Beatty, along with Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin was pepper-sprayed by police during a protest in 2020 following the death of George Floyd.
"It is clear to me that federal intervention is necessary to confront these systemic failings, correct longstanding issues, and restore the public’s confidence in those who have sworn to protect and serve them," Beatty said in the letter. "I understand there are have been calls ranging from assistance through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services to a comprehensive pattern and practice investigation. I support these efforts and respectfully request that the Department of Justice take all appropriate actions to investigate and remediate the Columbus Police Department."
In his request, Ginther said the city would "like to act expeditiously to formally engage the U.S. Department of Justice within the next 30 days."