Columbus, Ohio – A Franklin County jury determined that a former Columbus police undercover police officer was not guilty of murder and voluntary manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman in August 2018. The jury deliberated for five hours.
After the verdict, the family of 23-year-old Donna Dalton Castleberry said they felt like the verdict in the case against former Columbus police officer Andrew Mitchell was a “miscarriage of justice” and they were devastated by the news.
Mitchell was a 30 year veteran of the department.
Brian Steel, executive vice president of Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, which represents Columbus police and many other area law enforcement officers, said in a statement that Mitchell’s decision to shoot Castleberry after being severely injured and choked was justified, and that the former vice officer “should have never been charged.”
This is the second trial in the case. In the first trial, 10 out of 12 jurors at the first trial voted not to convict and a mistrial ensued.
Franklin County prosecutors declined to comment after the verdict according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Mitchell was working undercover in plain clothes and was in an unmarked Mitsubishi Galant on Aug. 23, 2018, when he picked up Castleberry along Sullivant Avenue on the city’s West Side.
He drove to an apartment building on South Yale Avenue, parking the Galant with the passenger side of the car against the building and with the child locks engaged, trapping Castleberry inside the vehicle. Mitchell then told Castleberry she was under arrest, but did not have his police badge or radio, both of which Castleberry asked to see as proof of his identity.
Mitchell showed Castleberry his plastic police ID, some blank paperwork and his handcuffs, he testified during trial. A scuffle between Castleberry and Mitchell in the front seat of the Galant led to Mitchell being cut on the hand and what he says was an attempt by Castleberry to choke him with her foot.
Mitchell ultimately fired six shots, until his gun jammed, with three of them hitting Castleberry. She died at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center a short time later.
He faced charges of murder and voluntary manslaughter in connection with Castleberry’s death on Aug. 23, 2018.