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Timeline: Investigation Of Columbus Police Vice Unit

At a rally last year, a protester holds up a picture of Donna Castleberry, who was shot and killed in the undercover car of former Vice officer Andrew Mitchell in August 2018.
Katie Forbes
At a rally last year, a protester holds up a picture of Donna Castleberry, who was shot and killed in the undercover car of former Vice officer Andrew Mitchell in August 2018.

More than a year after FBI began investigating the now-shuttered Columbus Police Vice Unit, the department continues to see fallout. One former officer, Andrew Mitchell, faces federal and state charges. Two other detectives, Steven Rosser and Whitney Lancaster, were fired while two supervisors have been suspended.

Below is a timeline of major events in the case so far. This post will be updated as more information develops.

July 11, 2018: Stormy Daniels and local performers Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters arrested at Sirens. Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein dropscharges against Daniels that day, saying the law under which she was arrested (Ohio’s “Community Defense Act”) is not enforceable.

July 18, 2018: City Attorney dropscharges against Walters and Panda.

August 3, 2018: City Attorney sayshe will review and possibly dismiss past charges under the "Community Defense Act."

Mid-August 2018: Vice officer Andrew Mitchell becomes subject of an internal investigation after a citizen accuses him of misconduct.

August 23, 2018: Mitchell killsDonna Castleberry while arresting her on solicitation charges.

September 6, 2018: Then-Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs pausesVice Unit operations to conduct internal review.

September 27, 2018: Jacobs requestsFBI’s help in investigating Vice.

September 28, 2018: FBI conductsraid of Mitchell’s home in connection to the initial citizen complaint. Mitchell is relieved of duty.

October 2, 2018: Panda and Walters filefederal civil rights lawsuit against Columbus Police Vice officers.

November 1, 2018: Vice officer Steve Rosser relieved of duty per FBI recommendation.

December 14, 2018: Vice officer Whitney Lancaster relieved of duty per FBI recommendation. Vice Unit resumes some duties, not including stings and undercover work.

December 24, 2018: Chief Kim Jacobs announcesshe will retire in February. The department says Jacobs reached the maximum time allowed in the "Deferred Retirement Option Program."

January 14, 2019: Daniels filesfederal civil rights lawsuit against Vice Officers, alleging her arrest was “politically motivated.”

January 22, 2019: Tom Quinlan namedinterim chief of Columbus Police.

January 25, 2019: Columbus City Council votesto approve $150,000 settlement with Panda and Walters stemming from their July 2018 arrest.

March 8, 2019: Columbus Police investigation findsDaniels’ arrest was “improper” but not pre-planned or politically motivated.

March 11, 2019: Mitchell indictedon federal charges. Federal authorities accuse Mitchell of kidnapping victims under the pretense of arrest and then forcing them to have sex in order to be released. Mitchell is held without bond.

March 12, 2019: Klein announcesthe City Attorney’s Office will review and possibly dismiss open and pending cases that solely involve Mitchell.

March 13, 2019: Mitchell retiresin “bad standing” from the department.

March 19, 2019: Interim Police Chief Tom Quinlan announces abolishmentof Vice Unit.

April 4, 2019: Mitchell indictedby Franklin County grand jury for murder of Castleberry.

April 8, 2019: Columbus launchesits first-ever nationwide search for a new police chief.

April 16, 2019: Six former employees at Kahoots strip club sueSteve Rosser and Whitney Lancaster for unfairly arresting them.

April 18, 2019: Mitchell is indictedby a federal grand jury on additional charges of obstruction of justice and destroying property to prevent seizure.

July 15, 2019: Columbus Police announce an organizational restructuring, including replacingthe Vice Unit with a Police And Community Together Team. The department also announced that only uniformed officers will be making arrests.

July 31, 2019: Columbus Police Interim Chief Tom Quinlan announces departmental charges against five officers over the arrest of Daniels, Panda and Walters.

September 18, 2019: Interim Chief Tom Quinlan recommends the firing of Steve Rosser and Whitney Lancaster, two former Vice Unit officers. The department also recommended suspending Lieutenant Ron Kemmerling and Sergeant Scott Soha, while giving Commander Terry Moore a written reprimand.

September 27, 2019: Stormy Daniels agreesto settle her lawsuit against the city of Columbus for $450,000.

October 16, 2019: City of Columbus asksa federal court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former workers at Kahoots strip club.

December 17, 2019: Tom Quinlan namednew Columbus Police Chief after nationwide candidate search.

January 7, 2020: Former owners of Kahoots strip club file a federal lawsuitagainst Rosser, Lancaster and the city of Columbus.

January 23, 2020: Officers Rosser and Lancaster are both fired by Public Safety director Ned Pettus over the arrest of Stormy Daniels. The city also suspends Kemmerling and Soha.

January 28, 2020: Lawsuit from Jane Doe accusesMitchell of sexually assaulting her in 2017-2018.

February 25, 2020: Columbus pays $185,000 to settle a lawsuitfrom six former Kahoots dancers.

March 31, 2020: Fired officers Rosser and Lancaster are arrested on federal civil rights charges. A federal grand jury indicted them March 26 on charges of conspiracy to deprive a person of their civil rights, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

June 19, 2020: A Franklin County judge set a $1 million bond for Andrew Mitchell.

November 16, 2020: Columbus plans to pay $1 million to the family of Donna Castleberry, who was killed by former Vice officer Andrew Mitchell in 2018. It would be the largest payoutin city history.

If you have information to share about the Vice Unit, contact WOSU at adora@wosu.org.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.
Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.