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Former Columbus police officer sentenced to 18 months in prison for fatal 2022 DUI crash


A former Columbus police officer was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to killing a woman when he drove under the influence while off-duty in 2022 and fleeing the scene.

Demetris Ortega, 51, was sentenced Friday in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas by Judge Carl Aveni. Ortega pleaded guilty in September to two charges of failing to stop after an accident and misdemeanor drunk driving, in connection with the death of 27-year-old Naimo Mahdi Abdirahaman in April 2022.

Abdirahaman was crossing Morse Road near Walford Street at an intersection with marked crosswalks when the crash happened.

Ortega retired in bad standing with the Columbus Division of Police in October.

The judge also suspended Ortega's driver's license for three years.

Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Jeff Zezech told WOSU in September that a vehicular homicide charge was not added, due to investigators not being able to determine who was at fault, as well as a lack of security cameras and witnesses to the crash.

Abdirahaman’s family spoke at the sentencing on Friday and they have filed a civil suit against Ortega.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.