Six Ohio officers ordered to cooperate with protest probe

Ohio

Hearts with the names of black people who died at the hands of police are displayed on a fence as part of a protest at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, June 6, 2020. People are protesting racial injustice and police brutality after the death of George Floyd, a black man, who died after he was restrained by Minneapolis police on May 25. (AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Six police officers in Ohio’s capital city have been ordered to cooperate with an investigation into allegations of police violence during anti-racism protests last year, the Columbus Department of Public Safety announced Thursday.

The officers are not suspects but are considered witnesses whose information is needed to prosecute the case. Rick Wozniak, a former FBI agent hired by Columbus to investigate the police violence accusations, issued the orders.

Statements by the officers can’t be used against them, but failure to cooperate could lead to departmental charges of insubordination, the Public Safety department said.

Only five of 60 officers identified as having a connection with the protests have agreed to cooperate with Wozniak to date.

Officers challenging investigative tactics by Wozniak and Kathleen Garber, a former county prosecutor, filed a complaint in Franklin County Court earlier this month arguing the investigators’ efforts are unconstitutional, The Columbus Dispatch has reported.

A federal lawsuit filed in July on behalf of more than two dozen protesters seeks monetary damages for injuries sustained in clashes with police after the death of George Floyd.

The lawsuit describes peaceful demonstrators and bystanders being beaten, fired on with wooden and rubber bullets, and unlawfully arrested during protests in late May and June.

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