The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has sued Columbus police for three protesters pepper-sprayed in the face during a Jan. 30 rally against Trump administration policies.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Columbus, contends that police used excessive force, committed assault and battery on the protesters, and violated their right to free speech.
“Police gratuitously attacked several demonstrators by shooting them with pepper spray directly in the face — intentionally, and at very close range,” according to the suit. It said three of the officers selected demonstrators to spray, saying, “I call that guy first,” and “I wanted that chick to get it.”
The 200 or so protesters were remnants of a larger group that had held a peaceful demonstration at the Statehouse against President Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries.
The smaller group spilled onto South High and State streets shortly before 8:15 p.m., linked arms and stood in the middle of the intersection, police said.
The suit names Chief Kim Jacobs and Lt. Jeffrey Lipp as defendants. According to the suit, Lipp instructed officers to spray a two-second burst above the crowd.
It also names as defendants “three unnamed” officers, the Dispatch reports.