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Columbus Police Investigation Finds Officers Improperly Arrested Stormy Daniels

Columbus Police have concluded their internal investigation into the 2018 arrest of Stormy Daniels at a Columbus strip club, which the department calls “improper” but not pre-planned or politically motivated.

Daniels was arrested by Vice Unit officers during her appearance at the strip club Sirens strip club on July 11, 2018. Along with two other women, Daniels was charged with violating Ohio’s “Community Defense Act,” which prohibits “nude or semi-nude” dancers from touching patrons.

According to a press release Friday, the Internal Affairs investigation was centered around three allegations: that Daniels’ arrest was “pre-planned” ahead of her appearance; that Daniels’ arrest was planned “for political motivation or reason”; and that Daniels’ arrest was improper.

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Clifford in January alleges officers were “politically motivated” to arrest the adult film star, in retaliation for Clifford suing President Trump over a 2016 hush payment.

“Defendant Officers also arrested Ms. Clifford because they believed that doing so would damage her credibility in relation to any statements she had make or might in the future make against President Trump [sic],” the suit claimed. “Damaging Ms. Clifford’s credibility in this way was another purpose of Defendant Officers’ conspiracy.”

Another federal lawsuit filed by the women arrested with Daniels – Miranda Panda and Brittany Walters – also claims political motivation. Charges against Daniels, Panda and Walters were dropped soon after by Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein, who recommended police stop enforcing the “Community Defense Act.”

The investigation concluded that Vice officers Steven Rosser, Whitney Lancaster, Shana Keckley and Mary Praither did make “an improper arrest” of Daniels. However, the allegations of a pre-planned or politically-motivated arrest were determined to be “unfounded.”

According to police, the internal investigation included 19 interviews, the review of 11,000 emails and over 30 hours of video. Daniels declined to participate in the investigation.

The internal investigation will now be reviewed by the department’s Narcotics Bureau Commander and Investigation Subdivision Deputy Chief, and Deputy Chief Tim Becker will determine what if any actions will be taken based on the investigation’s findings.

Since the FBI launched its investigation into the Vice Unit in September, three detectives have since been removed of duty, including defendants Rosser and Lancaster. Vice resumed some duties in December, following a months-long pause of operations.

Columbus City Council voted in January to settle with Panda and Walters for $150,000.

Copyright 2019 WOSU 89.7 NPR News