Mayor Ginther says he trusts chief to make right call on any Columbus officer discipline

(WBNS)
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says he trusts interim Police Chief Tom Quinlan to make the correct call when it comes to any discipline that five Columbus Division of Police officers could face over their arrest of adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Quinlan called Daniels’ July 2018 arrest “improper” and announced Wednesday that a commander, lieutenant, sergeant and two officers from the now-dissolved vice unit have been departmentally charged and could face discipline — up to being fired.

Daniels is suing the city and four vice officers — alleging her arrest was part of a conspiracy by conservative officers to get back at her over her alleged affair years ago with Donald Trump.

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A Columbus Division of Police internal affairs investigation did not support her claim.

10 Investigates caught up with Mayor Ginther at a scheduled event Thursday.

When asked if the officers should be reprimanded or fired, Ginther would not commit, saying:

“This is a process ... I think we've all made it clear that their actions and behavior were unacceptable,” Ginther said, before adding that he will leave it up to Quinlan and the Department of Public Safety.

All five members of the now-dissolved vice unit – Commander Terry Moore, Lt. Ron Kemmerling, Sgt. Scott Soha, and officers Steve Rosser and Whitney Lancaster – each signed letters from Quinlan acknowledging that they could face discipline.

Moore and the other administrators of the unit have been accused by Quinlan of failing to supervise the actions of the vice unit.

Rosser is accused of "making an improper arrest of Stormy Daniels," so too is his partner Whitney Lancaster. Both are named in Daniels’ federal lawsuit against the city.

Records related to the potential discipline show Quinlan also accused Rosser of being "untruthful" with internal affairs about the purpose for investigation at Sirens Gentlemen's Club the night Stormy Daniels was arrested.

Rosser said it was in part because vice unit officers were looking for a 16-year old dancer named “Pearl” who they feared had been a victim of human trafficking.

While other officers contended that the investigation at Sirens was a carry-over from other investigations inside strip clubs, Interim Chief Tom Quinlan wrote that "no search was conducted at Sirens on July 11 for ‘Pearl’ and no other vice section personnel interviewed in this investigation made any statement in reference... to a human trafficking victim named Pearl."

Rosser’s partner, Whitney Lancaster, also faces discipline for his actions on the night of Daniels’ arrest as do the Commander, Lieutenant and Sergeant — each was accused of failing to fulfill their supervisory roles with the now-defunct vice unit.

The operations of the vice unit were suspended last September after two controversial incidents — the arrest of Stormy Daniels and questionable investigations inside strip clubs and the fatal shooting of Donna Castleberry during an alleged sting operation.

Former vice officer Andrew Mitchell is facing state charges related to Castleberry’s murder. He also faces federal charges — accused of abusing the badge and allegedly coaxing women into sexual acts in lieu of their arrests.

Quinlan dissolved the vice unit in March around the same month that Mitchell retired from the department and was charged in federal court.

The officers were not made available for interviews Thursday through the department. Repeated calls and emails placed with the Fraternal Order of Police were not returned.

Daniels’ attorney, Chase Mallory, said in a statement: “In reviewing the facts after Stormy’s arrest, it was clear she was targeted for a high profile arrest. We aren’t surprised CPD is seeking discipline. We are looking forward to further showing the truth of Stormy’s wrongful arrest to a jury in her pending civil lawsuit.”