Prosecutor could earn $50,000 more for Ohio police investigation after George Floyd protests

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Legal costs are piling up for Columbus taxpayers as a special prosecutor investigates police conduct during the 2020 downtown protests.

The city council is considering paying the prosecutor an additional $50,000, on top of a contract that started at $15,000 in 2020. Attorney Kathleen Garber was hired in August 2020 to lead the investigation alongside the retired FBI agent Richard Wozniak. The initial contract was for one year, but deadlines and costs have since skyrocketed.

Two years after the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, three Columbus police officers are facing misdemeanor charges and the investigation is still not complete. Since the $15,000 contract launched in 2020, it was doubled to $30,000 in January 2021. In April 2021, another $50,000 was added, and another $8,000 in November. If the city council approves the final $50,000 increase, the contract will be worth $138,000.

Asked in 2021 about a response to the second price increase, Garber told NBC4 Investigates that she and Wozniak were having trouble convincing officers to accept interviews, which the police union argued they weren’t. shouldn’t have to do.

“I don’t think anyone imagined that the investigative aspect of it would take this long,” Garber said at the time.

In January 2022, an arbitrator ruled the officers could be ordered to testify as witnesses. Contacted by email on Monday, Garber said the development has caused delays in her efforts. Garber also said she was originally hired to prosecute only the charges brought by another special prosecutor, who was supposed to lead the investigation with Wozniak. Garber said that person became unavailable, so she took on both roles.

Regarding Monday’s proposed contract increase, Garber said she was unaware of it.

“I never asked for an extension of my contact or more money,” she said. “Honestly, there isn’t enough money in the world to make what I’ve been through and am still going through worth it. It’s not a question of money. This is to ensure that citizens receive the justice they deserve and that officers are held accountable when they behave criminally.

The trial of one of the three charged officers began earlier this month and was suspended after two days due to unforeseen circumstances for the prosecutor. A second special prosecutor stepped in to help and said the trial is expected to resume next week.

The city council declined to comment for this story.

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