Woman describes Andrew Mitchell encounter as 'unprofessional'; implicates other officers

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) — Shannon Gaines will tell you she had a good childhood, loving parents and a middle-class upbringing.

She will also tell you that addiction drove her into a 20-year cycle of drugs and prostitution.

"The drugs started everything. But I knew from my very first hit of crack cocaine that I was sick. I knew immediately. I knew immediately. I wasn't done throwing up before I said 'Give me another one,'” Gaines told 10 Investigates.

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Gaines is one of 184 women that 10 Investigates has found was arrested by vice officer Andrew Mitchell in the past two years.

Mitchell was relieved of duties back in September amid an internal investigation by the Columbus Division of Police and a separate criminal probe by the FBI and other local and state agencies.

On August 23, 2018, Mitchell fatally shot and killed Donna Castleberry during an alleged prostitution sting. Authorities said at the time that Castleberry pulled a knife and cut Mitchell. Two weeks earlier, Mitchell had become the focus of a separate criminal probe into his behavior as a vice officer. Castleberry’s family has raised questions about this and criticized why Mitchell was allowed to remain on the street while the subject of a criminal investigation.

Mitchell was arrested Monday while at work.

He appeared in federal court Wednesday and will remain in federal custody pending trial.

Mitchell is facing federal charges, accused of abusing his power as a Columbus police officer by coaxing women into sexual acts under the threat of arrest or charges. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

One woman arrested by Mitchell in 2018, who did not wish to be identified, told 10 Investigates: “Officer Mitchell wanted me to have sex with him and I said 'No,' so he wrote me a ticket..."

Court records show that woman’s case was recently dismissed.

Federal authorities also say Mitchell is facing additional charges for lying to the FBI in denying that he had sex with a prostitute.

Gaines’ encounter with Mitchell was unlike the ones described this week by federal authorities.

Gaines said she was arrested near the intersection of Sullivant and Brinker during a sting operation last May.

“He was unprofessional and immature, like a big kid,” Gaines told 10 Investigates.

Gaines alleges that Mitchell made derogatory comments towards her, some of which are graphic.

“And when he pulled in, it's hard to turn down money when — the lifestyle — It's not just the drugs, it’s that lifestyle (that) becomes addicting. Even without the drugs, it was an opportunity to get money,” Gaines said.

She later pleaded guilty to loitering and soliciting and spent 30 days in jail.

But her criticism of that encounter doesn’t end there.

Gaines, who has solicitation and loitering arrests dating back to 2007, encouraged federal authorities to do a thorough investigation and implicated other officers.

“If they do a really good investigation, they're going to find that it's not just Mitchell,” she said.

In an emailed response, the Columbus Division of Police spokeswoman said that the department would investigate any complaints against its officers and encouraged people to come forward.

“All allegations of criminal misconduct by any other officer in the Vice Unit have been forwarded to the FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force," the spokeswoman said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said: “U.S. Attorney (Benjamin) Glassman has stated that this is an open and ongoing investigation. Beyond that, it is our policy not to confirm or deny any additional investigations or discuss individuals who have not been charged.”