An Ohio State University student says in a federal lawsuit that Columbus police officers violated his civil rights last year by beating him during a confrontation in the University District and conspiring to cover up the severity of the assault.
The suit, filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in Columbus on behalf of Joseph Hines of Jackson, Mich., accuses officers of an attack that left him with mental anguish and permanent scarring.
Hines, 21, is an OSU agribusiness major. His lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $75,000.
Hines said his rights were violated during a confrontation that his lawsuit repeatedly, but incorrectly, states occurred on Aug. 9, 2012. Police records show that it occurred 20 days later.
According to the suit, police handcuffed Hines, threw him to the ground and pulled on his arms hard enough for the cuffs to dig into his wrists. He also was punched and sprayed with pepper spray, the suit says.
The suit says that Hines had not committed any crime and that five officers later "conspired with one another to fabricate and disseminate false accounts, ... failed to report or document the incident accurately and failed to accurately report the force that was used."
Police have not denied that an encounter took place but have disputed details and said their use of force was justified.
Police said they approached Hines because he was drinking on the street. Officers said Hines evaded their questions and became combative when they tried to arrest him. That led to a struggle and the airing of an "officer-in-trouble" call that summons all available zone officers. One officer was injured in the struggle.
City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. said yesterday that the city had not been served with the lawsuit and had no comment.
Police filed six charges against Hines, including underage drinking and resisting arrest. He pleaded guilty to littering. He paid a $100 fine, and the other charges were dropped.
His father filed an internal-affairs complaint last fall, but the probe stalled when Joseph Hines refused to talk to investigators.
Copyright 2013 - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
McClatchy-Tribune News Service