By an ATF agent. 🤣
welcome to the party, pal.
An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has filed a federal lawsuit accusing two Columbus police officers of using excessive force against him while he was working in his official capacity.
Agent James Burk, a 16-year veteran of the ATF, said in the lawsuit he was working a "routine" assignment on July 7. That afternoon, he went to a home on the 3300 block of Edgebrook Drive near Dublin to retrieve a shotgun from someone who was not permitted to have a firearm.
The lawsuit said Burk was in his normal work attire, which was described as "casual professional" with his credentials in a pocket and an ID card around his neck.
When Burk knocked on the door of the home, a person inside called 911 and read the dispatcher Burk's badge number while refusing to open the door.
According to the lawsuit, this happens routinely and Burk had never had any issue with dispatchers or officers verifying his status as an ATF agent on assignment.
However, in this instance, Burk said the dispatcher told the 911 caller not to answer the door and dispatched Columbus police officers Joseph Fihe, a 20-year member of the division, and Kevin Winchell, who is also a 20-year veteran officer.
"When Fihe arrived at the scene, Agent Burk stood outside the home's front door and waved the officer over to where he was standing," the lawsuit said. "Even though Agent Burk had both hands raised and had represented that he is a federal agent, officer Fihe immediately drew his weapon and pointed it ... while simultaneously screaming at (Burk) to get on the ground."
The lawsuit said Burk told Fihe and Winchell, who arrived a short time later and also drew his gun while ordering Burk to the ground, that his credentials were in his pocket.
Fihe pointed his firearm at Burk for more than 90 seconds, according to the lawsuit, before both Fihe and Winchell "climbed on his back while violently twisting and pulling his arms to handcuff him."
The lawsuit said the officers also used a Taser on Burk multiple times while he was face down and "not evading arrest" before handcuffing Burk and placing him in the back of a cruiser, a process that involved pulling him into the car because a seatbelt was in the way.
After about an hour, during which Burk said he was denied water and "frequently disparaged ... to everyone in earshot" by Fihe, Burk was released without charges.
"Agent Burk acted lawfully and posed no immediate threat to officers Fihe and Winchell or anyone else," the lawsuit said. "Agent Burk did not resist the officers, attempt to flee from their custody or display any physical aggressiveness towards them."
The lawsuit said body cameras captured much of the incident and that the footage was shared within CPD for no apparent purpose.
Burk has since moved to an administrative role within ATF because of the incident and injuries, both physical and psychological, Burk says he suffered.
The lawsuit names the City of Columbus, Fihe and Winchell as defendants and argues this is part of a pattern of misconduct by Columbus police and a lack of investigation into officers' behavior, calling it "unconstitutional policing."
The Division of Police said it does not comment on pending litigation.
welcome to the party, pal.