Columbus officer under scrutiny has received extra police protection; owns properties tied to crimes

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COLUMBUS – Since being relieved of his duties amid an FBI probe and police investigation – Columbus Police Officer Andrew Mitchell has received additional police protection on several occasions – including two occasions for concerns about protests, 10 Investigates has learned.

Mitchell, a 30-year veteran of force, has been accused of fatally shooting Donna Castleberry during an alleged prostitution sting on August 23. Authorities have said that Mitchell, a vice officer, was attacked during the reported sting by Castleberry who drew a knife.

That officer-involved shooting is still under investigation.

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At the time of the fatal shooting, Mitchell was already the focus of a separate criminal investigation by his own department, police said.

The department received a citizen complaint on August 8, but had not taken disciplinary action or charged Mitchell with any offense.

That’s prompted both questions, concerns and protests from Castleberry’s family.

“I want answers, what happened,” Castleberry’s mother, Michelle Dalton said during a protest outside Columbus police headquarters earlier this week.

On a recent Saturday in October, Mitchell was spotted and confronted by members of Castleberry’s family at a southside bar, according to police reports, interviews and social media accounts.

It marked the second time multiple police units have responded for Mitchell in the past two months amid concerns over his safety.

Documents from both the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department and the Columbus Division of Police show that officers have been dispatched at least seven times for house checks, extra patrols or responding to concerns about protests at his home or elsewhere.

The first instance of a call for a large police response happened on August 31 when Mitchell requested help from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department out of concerns there was a “group of people heading to this house to rally” referring to his Delaware County home.

No one showed.

Body camera footage reviewed by 10 Investigates shows more than a dozen officers responding to the scene with lights and sirens on October 13 to the Dawghouse bar, where Mitchell can be seen sitting at a table with two other individuals.

Friends and relatives of Castleberry are questioned by officers outside, the video shows.

“All we said is ‘Justice for Donna,’” one woman tells an officer.

The officer replies: “That's the only reason we are all here is because that right now... he's still. He's still a cop. If someone says a cop is being threatened…”

Mitchell is later escorted to his car and tells an officer: “I kinda figured I should stay off the south end cause that's where the girl is from.”

The body camera footage shows one officer tell Mitchell he is still eligible to apply for his concealed carry permit.

Officer Mitchell starts to say something else but the body camera footage stops.

The next sequential clip from that officer’s body camera that was provided to 10 Investigates through an open records request shows the officer walking away from Mitchell’s vehicle and he starts talking to another officer.

A CPD spokeswoman said officer’s have discretion to turn off their body cameras when the call for service is over. But that seems contrary to what the department’s body camera policy states.

In addition to police protection, a 10 Investigates review of police reports shows that police have responded to rental properties owned by Mitchell more than 500 times in the past five years for criminal complaints ranging from homicides to sex crimes, child endangerment and at least one vice complaint.

One police report reviewed by 10 Investigates from early September of 2018 shows a male suspect with a gun was seeing running from an apartment that the report alleges shows was occupied by Andrew Mitchell.

The woman had only a vague description of the person’s clothing and said he ran southbound away from the apartment.

It is against this backdrop of additional police protections and history of crime runs that the both Columbus Police and the FBI continue to investigate Mitchell, whose home was raided earlier this month.

An FBI spokesman told 10 Investigates Thursday that its investigation is “still ongoing.”

10 Investigates attempted to talk to Mitchell about the allegations against him last week.

He told 10 Investigates: “I can’t talk to you, I’m sorry… My attorney said don’t talk to anybody.”

Mitchell declined to identify his attorney.