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3 Columbus officers plead not guilty in protest responses

July 7, 2021 GMT
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FILE - In this May 30, 2020, file photo, Congresswomen Joyce Beatty and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin try to intervene as Columbus Police use pepper spray on demonstrators during a protest on the death of George Floyd on South High Street near the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Special prosecutor Kathleen Gerber and independent investigator Rick Wozniak announced Wednesday, June 9, 2021, they have charged three Columbus police officers for alleged misconduct in their handling of demonstrators during the protests last summer following the killing of George Floyd. (Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)
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FILE - In this May 30, 2020, file photo, Congresswomen Joyce Beatty and Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin try to intervene as Columbus Police use pepper spray on demonstrators during a protest on the death of George Floyd on South High Street near the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Special prosecutor Kathleen Gerber and independent investigator Rick Wozniak announced Wednesday, June 9, 2021, they have charged three Columbus police officers for alleged misconduct in their handling of demonstrators during the protests last summer following the killing of George Floyd. (Kyle Robertson/The Columbus Dispatch via AP, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Three Columbus police officers have entered not guilty pleas to allegations of misconduct in their handling of demonstrators during protests last summer.

A special prosecutor and independent investigator hired by the city announced the charges against two officers and a sergeant last month in an ongoing investigation into the division’s handling of protests in May and June 2020 following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Officers Traci Shaw and Phillip Walls were charged with assault, dereliction of duty and interfering with protesters’ civil rights. Sergeant Holly Kanode was charged with falsifying information about a protester’s actions against another officer as well as dereliction of duty.

The three entered their not guilty pleas Wednesday in Franklin County Municipal Court. “We’re looking forward to trying these cases and proving our clients’ innocence in this situation,” defense attorney Mark Collins said.

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The misdemeanor charges follow a federal judge’s ruling in April that the Columbus police department mishandled the protests and used force against protesters without provocation.

In April, a $250,000 review commissioned by Columbus City Council found the city was unprepared for the size and energy of the protests and that most police officers felt abandoned by city leadership during that time.