Dale Phillips with arm in sling from tendon injury

Dale Phillips with arm in sling from tendon injury

Are innocent citizens pulled over, beaten and arrested by Columbus Police?
  Meet Dale Phillips. He claims he was roughed up, thrown to the ground, maced directly into his eyeballs and violently assaulted resulting in a ripped bicep tendon. His so-called “crime” – trying to back his car up to allow a police cruiser to proceed through an intersection. The charge -- ironically, “obstructing official business.”

  Before he was a long-haul trucker, Phillips worked as an Ohio State Trooper for eight years. “I was bored after a year, and I didn’t feel that we were following Constitutional law. It seemed like we were enforcing more ‘revenue crimes’ than following the Constitution we swore an oath to,” he said. “I didn’t like the corruption in the system.”
  In September 2014, Phillips was in search of cheap gas and turned north on Harris Avenue on the west side of Columbus. A police vehicle emerged from an alley and suddenly cut in front of him going the wrong way on a one-way street. “I backed up to let her go around me, but she turned her overheads on,” Phillips recalled.
  As Phillips tried to go on his way, Officer Karen Blair jumped out of her vehicle and stopped him. When he inquired as to why, she replied, “I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”
  Perhaps Phillips’ beating was inevitable when his trooper training took over and he informed the officer that, “You can’t just stop people. That’s a violation of Constitutional rights.”
  Blair demanded Phillips’ license and began to badger his female passenger as well. Phillips could see Blair running his plates and realized that she knew who he was and that he had a clean record. So, once again he asked to know why she was stopping him.

  “Am I being detained? If not, I am ready to leave,” Phillips said. He again reminded her that she was violating his Constitutional rights if she could not provide probable cause for his stop. He said his previous law enforcement training strongly suggested she was overstepping her authority.  

  At the same time, more authority showed up in the form of four more police cruisers. It was then that Phillips decided to comply with Blair’s wishes and file a complaint later. The police had pulled his female passenger out of the car and Phillips again reminded the officers that he had neither committed, nor been accused of, any crime.

  Blair then told Phillips that she was “investigating a burglary.” In order to clear the matter up, Phillips asked where the burglary occurred and what the description of the suspect was, hoping that the officer would realize that he and his passenger did not fit the description. Blair refused to answer.
  The 911 transcript and police records later indicated that Phillips, a black male, did not match the description of “two white males” accused in the burglary. Also, the suspects were said to be accompanied by a black female wearing an orange headband, however Phillips’ passenger was white and not wearing any headband.
  Things grew increasingly tense when Phillips reached for his wallet to show her his license and Blair put her hand on her gun and told him not to make any quick moves. After handing over his license he was ordered out of the vehicle. Knowing the reputation of the Columbus Police, Phillips feared he might end up the victim of excessive use of force.
  Officer Blair ripped the door open and Phillips slowly and reluctantly stepped out of his truck. He stated that as soon as his left foot hit the ground, a second officer, Groves, grabbed his arm and tried to twist it against his back. Since he was neither arrested nor resisting arrest, Phillips asked Groves why he was assaulting him. The question caused Office Groves to begin screaming loudly, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”
  Groves began pulling him and Phillips asked, “What’s wrong with you?”

  Soon other officers grabbed his other arm and pulled him away from the truck and now they were in a tug of war with Groves jerking him one way and another officer pulling him in another direction. All of them were hollering, “Stop resisting! Stop resisting!”
  One of the four officers grabbed his ankles as the others pulled his arms, jerking his feet out from under him. He remembers screaming, “I’m an ex-state trooper, you assholes!”

  Phillips’ head hit the ground hard, nearly knocking him unconscious. He was cuffed.
  Officer Groves stuck a mace bottle in his face and sprayed his eyes. He also raked the bottle up his face, scraping it, and maced his head. Phillips thought to himself, “This is unbelievable.”
  “I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die,” Phillips recalled. He could hear one officer screaming “Tase him too! Tase him too!” Fortunately, he was not tased, too.

  While Phillips waited in the police patrol car, the officers could not figure out what charge to give him. After 2½ hours in the car, Sergeant Rector told the officers to charge him with “obstructing official business.” They took him to the downtown jail. There he ran into an officer he knew from his state trooper days who told him that, usually when people were jailed in his condition, it was due to the Columbus Police.
  He spent a night in jail with all the injuries including a tendon ripped in his forearm. A few guards tried to make him as comfortable as possible. The county prosecutors offered to drop all charges if he would sign a waiver agreeing not to sue the Columbus Police. Phillips demanded a jury trial and was determined to sue the Columbus Police.
  The trial did not turn out as hoped. He was surprised at how many in the jury pool, drawn from jury lists, appeared to be “pro-police.” The police cruiser video he was relying on to vindicate him came up missing and all the officers appeared to tell the same story.
  “I’ve known this was going on for years. A lot of officers call it ‘testi-lying’ when they go to court, and laugh about it among themselves,” Phillips said.
  His defense did get to play the tape from the police dispatcher that proved he and his passenger did not match the description of the burglary suspects. Officer Blair, after admitting under oath that the radio dispatcher is an officer’s lifeline, said that she had not heard the descriptions of burglars that were blasted over her radio. The transcript revealed that the dispatcher also clearly stated that the suspects were all back inside a nearby bar.
  Despite there being no probable cause for the official stop and no charges other than obstructing official business, the jury found Phillips guilty.
  In many ways, Phillips’ beating and brutalization was predictable. When, at the end of the Clinton era, the U.S. Department of Justice investigated the Columbus Police and found a “pattern and practice” of abuse, they attributed the root cause to the questioning of police authority. Over 300 sworn affidavits indicated that people were not being assaulted by police because they posed any threat to society or had done anything illegal – rather they had dared to ask police why they were being stopped and what they were being charged with.
  Phillips has his own explanation: “The metro police departments want to hire people with an average IQ around 100. They don’t study the Constitution. They are not required to. They don’t want people with higher IQs who might think for themselves and not follow orders.”  

Bob Fitrakis has been maced and beaten by Columbus Police while exercising his First Amendment rights.

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