Columbus City Council will vote Monday whether to pay $150,000 to settle a lawsuit with Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters, who were arrested at a strip club last July with adult film actress Stormy Daniels.
Panda and Walters say they were unlawfully arrested at Sirens on July 11, 2019, by members of the Columbus Division of Police Vice Unit.
The arrest of Stormy Daniels brought national attention to Columbus. At the time, Daniels said Donald Trump paid her to keep secret an affair between them before the November 2016 election. Daniels, Panda and Walters all alleged their arrest was in retaliation for Daniels' comments.
“We believe and my clients believe they were added onto this to make it look like there was something more going on than apparently just they wanted to harass a woman who was suing the president of the United States,” said lawyer Edward Hastie.
All three women were charged under Ohio's "Community Defense Act," which bans people who work in sexually-oriented businesses to touch people they are not related to.
Police released Clifford from jail the same day. On July 18, Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein dropped charges against Panda and Walters.
Columbus Police Lieutenant Whitney Lancaster and Columbus Police Detectives Shana Keckley, Mary Praither and Steven Rosser are named in the suit. Lancaster, Mitchell and Rosser have all been removed from duty amid an FBI investigation into the Vice Unit.
Earlier this month, Clifford filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Columbus Vice officers for $2 million.
According to the City Council’s agenda for Monday, January 28, “Emergency action is requested for this ordinance to be effective immediately in order for the parties to effectuate the settlement of this lawsuit, which is in the best interest of the City, and to pay the agreed to sum without delay.”
The money to settle the suit would come from the city’s General Fund.
The Vice Unit resumed some operations in December after a months-long suspension.