Abdur-Rahim et al. v. City of Columbus et al.
This case falls into the legal category of: First Amendment, Fourth Amendment
Case Dates:Thursday, 15 June, 2017 - ongoing
After Donald Trump released his first executive order known as the Muslim Ban, peaceful protests broke out across the nation. On the evening of January 30, 2017, three days after the Ban was announced, organizing groups in Columbus held a rally near the Ohio Statehouse to show resistance to the Order and solidarity with immigrants.
After a rally and a short march, most protesters left, but a smaller group of them returned to an intersection near the Statehouse. Columbus police formed a line in the street, facing the protesters.
The remaining protesters faced the police and chanted and prayed. Meanwhile the police issued repeated dispersal orders. After about 40 minutes, the police sprayed pepper spray in the air just above the crowd. The protesters turned around and immediately began to disperse. As they were retreating from the area, the police chased several targeted individuals and sprayed them again, directly in the eyes and face, at very close range. The audio provided by police body cameras revealed that some police officers intentionally targeted these specific individuals in advance.
Columbus police officers violated the Fourth Amendment prohibition on excessive use of force and the First Amendment rights to speech and assembly when they targeted and pepper sprayed peaceful, unarmed protesters who were in the process of complying with dispersal orders.
On July 12, 2017, we filed suit in the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on behalf of three of the demonstrators who were sprayed at close range. The Defendants are three unnamed Columbus police officers, Jeffery Lipp, the commanding lieutenant from the event, Kim Jacobs, the Chief of Police, and the City of Columbus. Defendants filed their Answer on September 29, 2017.