law enforcement

Updated: 5:25 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020

The Shaker Heights police officer who made an obscene gesture at demonstrators outside the presidential debate in Cleveland last month has been fired.

In a letter sent Thursday, Shaker Heights Police Chief Jeff DeMuth informed Cpl. Michael Spuzzillo of the decision to terminate.

According to DeMuth’s letter, Spuzzillo broke 11 of the department’s rules and standards when he flashed a middle finger at demonstrators while driving an unmarked police van outside the Sept. 29 debate site.

A Columbus Police officer aims a pepper spray cannister at a protester's face on May 30, 2020.
Katie Forbes / Kforbesphotography

The killing of Minneapolis man George Floyd in May sparked protests across the nation. Since his death, there’s been a stream of Columbus demonstrations demanding police reform. 

Police Reform

Oct 2, 2020
A protester holds up a sign saying "Defund the police" on June 6, 2020, in New York.
Ragan Clark / Associated Press

This episode originally aired Sept. 22, 2020.

Calls for police reform sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have echoed in cities and statehouses across the country.

Protesters on the sidewalk of the Ohio Statehouse face Columbus Police officers, who stood in the middle of High Street, on June 1, 2020.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

An Ohio board is developing a statewide standard for police departments to follow when dealing with mass protests.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

This is part two of a two-part series about race inside Columbus Division of Police. Read part one here

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, who oversees the Columbus Division of Police. He was interviewed prior to publication, but his comments were erroneously not included in the original story.

Protests erupted in June 2016 after the fatal police shooting of Henry Green.
Esther Honig / WOSU

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has re-opened the door for a wrongful death lawsuit against Columbus Police officers Zachary Rosen and Jason Bare, over the fatal shooting of Henry Green in 2016.

The police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosa, Wis., resonated with Roy Divine, who grew up 30 miles from the Milwaukee suburb, but says it "didn't feel that different" than the police killing of George Floyd that sparked nationwide protests earlier this summer.

A Columbus Police officer speaks to protesters during demonstrations over police brutality and racism.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

This is part one of a two-part series about race inside the Columbus Division of Police. Read part two here.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Columbus Public Safety Director Ned Pettus, who oversees the Columbus Division of Police. He was interviewed prior to publication, but his comments were erroneously not included in the original story.

Updated 4:13 p.m. ET

Thousands of demonstrators braved sweltering temperatures in the nation's capital on Friday to demand an overhaul of the country's criminal justice system and push for racial equality.

The event, called the Commitment March, was held at the Lincoln Memorial, the same site where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. called for those same reforms decades ago in his iconic "I Have a Dream" speech.

A Columbus Police officer aims a pepper spray cannister at a protester's face on May 30, 2020.
Katie Forbes / Kforbesphotography

A federal appeals court ruled a Columbus Police officer is protected by qualified immunity after pepper-spraying a protester in 2017. 

Columbus Division of Police Central Headquarters.
David Holm / WOSU

The Columbus Division of Police received a higher percentage of "diverse" applicants to the department this year than it did last year, department officials say. However, the total number of applications is down, a trend seen by law enforcement agencies across the U.S.

Protesters march in downtown Columbus on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office has opened a new office to promote diversity and equity, following massive protests in Columbus over police violence and racism.

In a survey of Americans' attitudes toward law enforcement, two-thirds of respondents said that individual officers should be held legally accountable for using excessive force, but few of those polled said they would support cutting police budgets.

Columbus Police confront protesters at a demonstration downtown on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

A group of protesters have filed a federal lawsuit against Columbus Police for injuries they sustained in late May and early June, alleging that officers used excessive force and violated their constitutional rights.

Columbus Police confront protesters at a demonstration downtown on June 2, 2020.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss Gov. Mike DeWine's plan to change policing in Ohio. Plus, a look at the turnover inside the state health department.

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