On June 21 2020, social media videos appeared to show the aftermath of a confrontation between a man and police in Columbus, Ohio — such as a post in r/Columbus claiming the individual had been maced by police officers:
On Reddit’s r/Columbus, and Twitter
In the post’s title, its submitter claimed that Columbus police had “hit and maced a double amputee.” On Twitter, viral tweets involving the same (or similar) video included a more complicated and sinister description:
Although the tweet here referenced the above-linked r/Columbus thread as its source, it also offered additional details:
5️⃣9️⃣6️⃣ Columbus, OH: police pepper spray a double amputee, then *disconnect and take his prosthetic legs*
The man *crawled on his hands* to get medical help while a group of protestors rushed the cops to get his legs back
Today, 21 June 2020
Attorney Ben Crump also tweeted about the incident, sharing the same details:
Another tweet by a separate user included still images of what appeared to be the same young man, as well as a police officer:
A commenter on the above-linked Reddit thread linked to a separate Reddit video of the same protest, and speculated that the young man was visible in the background of the second video at around the 14-second mark:
Ok I am not affiliated with this post at all but someone up higher linked to another reddit post with video where you can see this amputee dude in the background. It’s all I could find so far but I am trying to help out here. Start 14 seconds in and you can see a dude moving with a white shirt kinda in the middle in back on his hands, he is getting dragged one way by a protestor while cops are dragging him by his legs. Its on the screen from like 14 to 17 seconds. This is all I could find myself so far.
Witnesses and Others Describe the Incident
Professor and editor Laurenn McCubbin asserted that her husband was present for the altercation seen in the video:
McCubbin also shared the Reddit post, and maintained:
“Today in Columbus my husband was downtown at the protests & saw the cops hit & mace an unarmed kid and then STEAL HIS PROSTHETIC LEGS.
“For everyone asking: the protesters begged the cops for the legs back, cops refused. Then a group rushed the cops (getting maced) and were able to grab the legs back & get them back to the kid.”
Later on in the thread, McCubbin added that her spouse was distressed by witnessing the events in the video:
Although McCubbin provided a secondhand account of the events in the video, attorney Stacey Hauff stated she “watched a Black man who is a double amputee fall out of his wheelchair and crawl for yards down High Street after being maced” which “was one of the most awful things” she’d ever seen, and that the young man “was terrified”:
Hauff added that no city workers, emergency medical technicians included, stopped to assist the young man:
Not one City employee—including the EMTs on site—stopped to help this man or see if he was ok, but all these people did and did so immediately. This is why it feels like a conflict. It doesn’t have to be this way. This can be a community for everyone.
Newsweek reported on the viral video and protesters’ accounts of the incident, but were unable to corroborate some of the details:
In the events which led up to the man left stranded on the ground, police formed a tight line on bicycles and drove the protesters out of the intersection. Several videos show the man’s prosthetic legs and feet laying next to him on the ground, but demonstrators who recorded the incident said on Reddit and Twitter that police removed them from the scene.
A Columbus College of Art & Design professor wrote on Twitter that she witnessed police officers confiscating the man’s prosthetic legs. This could not be independently confirmed by Newsweek … One angle of the incident shows the man crawling on his hands toward the curb of the street before several other protesters offer assistance.
TMZ reported that police in Columbus said “they’re investigating the incident,” and added:
Witnesses say the young man was unarmed and non-violent when he got pepper-sprayed by Columbus, OH police officers Sunday, and for some reason … they also allegedly disconnected his legs.
The guy reportedly crawled on his hands to get medical help, while other protesters rushed the cops to demand his legs back. Despite getting maced, they were successful … and you can see the prosthetics on the ground in the video.
Columbus Police Have Not Commented; Columbus Mayor Acknowledges the Video
On Facebook, a number of commenters flooded the Columbus Division of Police Facebook page to demand answers; the incident was not officially addressed on either Facebook or Twitter. Columbus, Ohio mayor Andrew Ginther acknowledged the viral video in several tweets:
Video of an incident between a man in a wheelchair and Columbus police was shared on Reddit and Twitter on June 21 2020. The man in the video was not officially identified, and the events depicted were not entirely clear. According to witnesses, police purportedly confiscated the man’s prosthetic legs; that was not substantiated, but it was also clear the man’s legs had been removed at some point. It was also not explicitly clear that the man was maced or pepper sprayed, but the video appeared to show the after-effects of chemical agents. We will update this page as more information becomes available.