Columbus vice officer resigns after accusations of abuse of authority

Columbus Vice Officer Andrew Mitchell

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus Vice Detective Andrew Mitchell, who has been accused of kidnapping victims under the guise of arrest and then forcing them to engage in sex in exchange for their freedom, has resigned, the Columbus Division of Police announced on Wednesday.

Mitchell’s resignation comes after he was indicted on federal charges that involve abusing his authority as an officer of the law.

Interim Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said Mitchell submitted a letter of resignation.

“He is a former employee and had he not done that, I would have been moving forward with termination for job abandonment because he’s currently incarcerated,” Quinlan said.

Mitchell officially retired March 13, according to Columbus police.

He will retire in bad standing. The pension board will decide whether he gets to keep his pension, police said.

On Tuesday, the Columbus Division of Police announced it is abolishing its vice section within the Narcotics Bureau.

Quinlan said vice-related crimes will now be addressed using a community-centered approach.

“I think there’s a way to approach these type of crimes whether it be liquor violations, after-hours clubs, prostitution with a different lens,” Quinlan told NBC4. “Something that’s more driven towards catch-court ideas of trying to get people into help, resources, offer them a way out. I think we can do that through some plain clothes directed patrols, through some uniform presence, deterrence and without having to have officers out there in a covert status and engaging and participating in this type of activity.”

Quinlan says he met with remaining vice officers Tuesday and issued them assignment abolishment notices.

Many of the officers previously assigned to vice had previously transferred to new assignments. Seven officers will be given the opportunity to seek a new assignment within the Columbus Division of Police.

Two high-profile cases preceded the Columbus Police department’s internal review into its vice unit and a subsequent FBI investigation.

One was the police-involved shooting of Donna Castleberry by vice officer Andrew Mitchell.

Police say Mitchell apprehended Castleberry during a prostitution sting and that he shot Castleberry after she stabbed his hand.

Mitchell was also the subject of a citizen complaint, and earlier this month, Mitchell was indicted on federal charges of using his authority as a police officer to force victims to engage in sex in exchange for their freedom.

Another high-profile incident was the arrest of Stormy Daniels last summer when she was performing at a Columbus strip club. The department dropped charges against Daniels, but she still has a pending civil case. 

Daniels’ attorney Chase Mallory says he’s not surprised by the decision to dissolve the vice unit.

“They clearly didn’t even look at the statute they were using to arrest her, and she was clearly targeted, so I think that’s why CPD has made the correct decision to terminate that unit,” said Mallory. 

Early in March, the Columbus Police Department announced their internal investigation was complete and found Stormy Daniels’ arrest was improper but not pre-planned or politically motivated. 

Quinlan said the changes to the Division do not reflect wrongdoing on the part of all of the officers in the Vice Unit, nor the entire Division.

Two other vice officers, Steve Rosser and Whitney Lancaster, were relieved of duty late last year pending the outcome of the ongoing federal investigation.

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