Federal judge rules that Columbus police "run amok", orders them to stop using violent tactics against nonviolent protestors

A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, has condemned police violence there and restricted the use of tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets against nonviolent protestors [PDF].

Judge Algenon Marbley of the Southern District of Ohio described the actions of the Columbus police as "the sad tale of officers, clothed with the awesome power of the state, run amok."

He opened his 88-page opinion with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "But somewhere I read of the freedom of assembly. Somewhere I read of the freedom of speech. Somewhere I read of the freedom of press. Somewhere I read that the greatness of America is the right to protest for rights."

Also banned, at least insofar as police can be made to obey a federal judge: body slams, flash-bang grenades, rubber bullets, batons and shoving. Among the incidents that led Marbley to his decision were police attacking protestors before ordering them to disperse, and the use of large wooden "knee knocker" rounds intended to cause severe bone-crushing injuries. From the ruling:

…Plaintiff Hubby heard a dispersal announcement after he was hit.

The projectile rendered Plaintiff Hubby unable to stand. (Id. at 225–26 ("It kind of felt like a hammer or like a steel bat or something was hitting it . . . [My knee] was broken into many little pieces . . . It kind of looked like a puzzle.")). A group of twelve Good Samaritans, strangers to Plaintiff Hubby, dragged him around the corner, out of the way of the raining munitions. (Id. at 233 ("Q. How could you tell they were still shooting? A. Because you could hear the shots.")). The protestors-turned-medics fashioned a splint for Mr. Hubby's knee before obtaining a rental bicycle and transforming it into a gurney so that he could be transported without over-exerting his knee. (Id. at 234 ("As they were running, a helicopter was following us.")). Eventually, Mr. Hubby was transported to the hospital and had surgery, resulting in twenty pins and a plate in his knee. Plaintiff Hubby, a 31-year-old man, no longer can walk more than a half-mile without significant pain—an improvement from his condition for the first four to five months post-shooting, when he was unable to walk at all. His knee swells regularly. His balance suffers. (Pl.'s Ex. 77 (containing photographs from February 2021 of injury)). As to whether Plaintiff Hubby would attend a future protest, he answered: "No sir . . . I just don't think it's a good idea now."

Through it all, the implication is that a lot of police training is about how to manufacture reasons to get violent—good to see in the black and white of a federal judge's ruling.