A Franklin County grand jury was expected to meet Wednesday and Thursday to weigh evidence related to an officer-involved shooting involving former vice officer Andrew Mitchell.
Traditionally, grand jury proceedings are kept secret.
But given the prominence of the story and scandal surrounding Mitchell, both the Franklin County prosecutor’s office and Mitchell’s attorney, Mark Collins, acknowledged that the grand jury was meeting this week to discuss the case.
Mitchell is accused of fatally shooting Donna Castleberry on August 23 during an alleged prostitution sting in Columbus.
At the time of the shooting, authorities had said that Castleberry had drawn a knife and cut Mitchell and that the vice officer responded with the use of force – shooting her three times, killing her.
But Donna’s family members and supporters have alleged that there is more to the story.
Two weeks before Donna’s shooting, Mitchell had become the subject of separate criminal investigation but was allowed to remain on the force.
Former police chief Kim Jacobs later placed the activities of the vice unit on hold in September following Castleberry’s shooting and the controversy surrounding other vice officers activities inside strip clubs – particularly following the arrest of adult film star Stormy Daniels in July. Later that month, it was announced that the FBI was investigating.
After six months of being on hold, Columbus Division of Police dissolved the vice unit last month just days after Mitchell was charged in federal court – accused of abusing the badge. Federal prosecutors allege that Mitchell coaxed women into sex acts in exchange for their freedom.
Mitchell has pleaded not guilty to federal charges and has remained in federal custody.
On Wednesday, family members and supporters of Donna Castleberry gathered outside the Franklin County courthouse to gather awareness of her case.
“We wanted to make a presence at the courthouse to just let people know that we are keeping the public aware of what’s going and gather support for our family in this trying time,” Donna’s sister, Bobbi McCalla told 10 Investigates. “I’m a nervous wreck that I don’t know what’s being said, what’s going on – we’re not allowed to know what’s going on. The not knowing is the hardest part.”
Donna’s mother, Michelle Dalton, believes that her daughter was murdered but she is not confident that a grand jury will see it that way.
“I’m scared they are going to miss something,” Michelle Dalton said.
The family plans to gather outside the courthouse Thursday as well.