OSU student’s excessive force lawsuit can proceed

COLUMBUS — A civil rights lawsuit filed by an Ohio State University student who claims Columbus police officers handcuffed and beat him up over what later amounted to a littering conviction can proceed to trial next month, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge James Graham on Friday ruled that major elements of Joseph Hines’ 2013 claim against the city and the officers can proceed, denying a request by city attorneys seeking to have the entire action dismissed.

The lawsuit accuses officers of a “brutal, unjustified physical attack” on Aug. 29, 2012, that left the then-21-year-old Hines unconscious, led to a three-day hospitalization and caused permanent scarring. He’s seeking a minimum of $75,000.

Hines, of Jackson, Michigan, later pleaded guilty to a charge of littering stemming from his arrest and paid a $100 fine. Five other charges were dropped.

Police contended their actions were justified. Tim Mangan, a city attorney, declined to comment Monday except to say that he plans to take the claim to trial, scheduled for July 14. A phone message was left with Hines’ attorney.

On the night of the incident, police approached Hines near Ohio State’s student union after reportedly seeing him drinking beer with other students. Hines denies he was drinking.

Although Hines was unarmed and police had put him in handcuffs, the lawsuit accuses officers of throwing him to the ground, yanking on his arms to cause the handcuffs to cut deeply into his wrists, repeatedly punching him in the head and hog-tying him. In a court filing, officers acknowledged punching Hines to try to subdue him.

The judge let stand Hines’ claim that the officers used excessive force in wrenching the handcuffs tight, taking him to the ground and punching him. But the judge ruled that officers’ use of a hog-tie strap was justified because Hines was kicking his feet, and that there was no proof that officers conspired to lie and cover up what had happened.

Hines was left with injuries to his head, eyes and wrists, has permanent scarring and has endured mental anguish, humiliation and severe emotional distress as a result, the lawsuit said.