City plans to pay $1M to family of woman killed by officer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The city of Columbus, Ohio, plans to pay $1 million to the family of a woman killed by an undercover officer in August 2018, according to documents filed in Franklin County Probate Court.

The payout would be the largest in city history, the Columbus Dispatch reported. A tentative settlement was reached in May, but the city council has to approve it.

The family of Donna Castleberry filed a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court in August 2019 against Columbus, former police chief Kim Jacobs and former Columbus police officer Andrew Mitchell, alleging the police department failed to properly train and supervise the vice officer.

The settlement does not cover Mitchell, who remains a defendant in the civil suit and in criminal cases against him in Franklin County Common Pleas Court and U.S. District Court in Columbus.

Mitchell has pleaded not guilty in state court to killing Castleberry after she stabbed him in the hand during an undercover prostitution investigation. He’s also pleaded not guilty to federal charges of forcing women to have sex with him under threat of an arrest.

Castleberry was killed Aug. 23, 2018.

Mitchell’s attorneys have argued that their client acted with reasonable force because Castleberry, a sex worker, allegedly stabbed him and attempted to choke him when he revealed he was an undercover officer. Court documents said Mitchell fired at Castleberry when she attempted to escape from the back seat of an undercover police vehicle, which had safety locks that prevented her exit.

Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said that Castleberry did not believe Mitchell was an officer because he did not have a badge or radio.

Last year, the city of Columbus also agreed to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels $450,000 to settle a lawsuit over her arrest at a strip club in 2018, part of fallout traced to the city’s vice unit of which Mitchell was a member. The vice unit was disbanded in March 2019.