Apr 3, 2024 - News

🏛 City Council's role

Illustration of Columbus City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Once a settlement is negotiated, it goes to the City Council for approval.

How it works: Council members often discuss the case for a few minutes in open session before voting.

  • Councilors have previously asked if Columbus can use police seizure funds forfeited by criminal defendants to pay for these settlements.
  • The city attorney's office maintains it "would not be appropriate" to use those funds for settlements, deputy city attorney Lara Baker-Morrish said at a February 2023 City Council meeting.

Flashback: Council member Nick Bankston shared frustrations during that meeting when approving a settlement involving an allegation of excessive force.

  • Cameryn Standifer, who was injured in a 2018 takedown maneuver while being arrested on a warrant for an unpaid traffic ticket, received $440,000.

What they're saying: "When mistakes are made like this, it costs taxpayer dollars," Bankston told colleagues.

  • "My vote tonight is a procedural one in that if this fails, it could cost the taxpayers even more money. And not only that, retraumatize this individual … it is not a vote that I want to be taking today."

The other side: Speaks boasts of Columbus' "world class training facility" and the "outstanding" leadership of chief Elaine Bryant and assistant chief LaShanna Potts, who both took over the department in 2021.

  • Bankston has also praised Bryant's leadership, noting the Standifer incident took place before she became chief.

Fast forward: Council went on to approve four more settlements in 2023, including $200,000 given to a Delaware County man who was punched, tased and maced by officers responding to his late-night car accident in 2019.

  • The first settlement in 2024 — approved by the Council on Feb. 12 — was $300,000 given to a man accidentally shot during an arrest nearly a decade ago.

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