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Ohio cop fired 4 months after brutal arrest of locs-wearing Black teen

Columbus’ Black police chief was ‘angry, disappointed, upset’ about officer’s behavior
Columbus, Ohio, Police Chief Elaine Bryant. (Photo credit: screnshot of YouTube video from officer body cam)

Four months after slamming a Black teenager’s face into the ground, dragging him by his locs and swearing at him, a Columbus, Ohio, police officer has been fired.

Donovan Bever’s actions on Feb. 19 left Columbus police chief  Elaine Bryant, who is Black, “angry, disappointed, upset. That is not what we reflect as Columbus Division of Police. The majority of our officers have great relationships with our community.”

Nevertheless, what Bever did directly reflect on the Columbus police. The events were captured on Bever’s body cam after officers approached a group of teenagers who were allegedly lingering in the street at a crosswalk near an apartment complex. When the teens attempted to run away from the officers, one cop chased them on foot while Bever pursued them in a police vehicle.

Two already had been stopped when Bever got out of the car and grabbed an unidentified 14-year-old — who repeatedly said that he was complying — by his locs and threatened him.

“If you move, I’ll break your face,” the officer said.

YouTube video

Bever struck the teen in the groin, according to police, and as he dragged the teen by his locs to the police cruiser, the officer asked him, “You got AIDS?”

Bryant defended the integrity of the department while singling out Bever as a bad apple.

“I don’t think this is a reflection of the division as a whole, but when it’s brought to our attention, we want to deal with it swiftly — and we want to make sure that we send that message that we will not accept this for our community,” Bryant said.

During a four-month leave, police investigated Bever, who joined the department in 2020, and another officer, who had sex while working an after-hours security detail in uniform. Department records detail that Bryant recommended a punishment of suspension or termination for each officer after finding that Bever’s use of force was not appropriate because, after his initial flight, the teenager cooperated with officers’ commands. She also said Bever’s language toward the teens was not acceptable.

Public Safety Director Kate Pishotti ultimately fired them, cutting ties with Bever on June 12, two days after the other officer was let go.

“Our community deserves better, and this 14-year-old deserves better,” Pishotti said.

Bever could still face criminal charges. An unidentified outside agency is currently investigating the use of force, but Bryant would not divulge which one.

Bever had a clean disciplinary record, according to department records; however, there were concerns about his language on the job. In November 2021, Bever’s supervisor recommended documented counseling because the officer “continually swore” at someone he took into custody.

Brian Steel, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capitol City Lodge No. 9, said his union intends to review Bever’s case to ensure proper procedures were followed.

“The conduct of these individual officers is unacceptable, falls far short of the standards expected of any public servant and tarnishes the great work that members of the police division do everyday,” City Attorney Zach Klein said.

Shannon Hardin, president of the Columbus City Council, said he stands by Bryant in her “swift investigation and decisive action.” He called the actions shown in the footage an “outrageous use of force.”

“I am angry at how this single officer’s petty display of power calls into question the integrity and hard work of the entire department,” Hardin told the Columbus Dispatch.

Hardin sent condolences to the boys and their families.

“We are working to build a city where young black boys like my son Noah or my nephew Christian can walk around their neighborhoods without being perceived as a threat by the police officers they trust to keep them safe,” Hardin said.

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