COLUMBUS, Ohio — Five officers involved in Stormy Daniels’ arrest at a strip club last year face discipline for a raid that led to her being taken into custody, the Columbus police department announced.
The department said Wednesday that the officers could face punishment ranging from a reprimand to firing. The officers include a commander, lieutenant, sergeant and two of the arresting officers, all part of a vice unit that was later disbanded.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was arrested at Sirens in July 2018 on suspicion of inappropriately touching an undercover officer. Prosecutors dropped charges against Daniels hours later, saying the law cited in her arrest applied only to those who regularly performed at the club.
An investigation into the arrest included a look at allegations that officers conspired to retaliate against the porn actress over her claims that Donald Trump had sex with her before he was elected president.
Those allegations are included in Daniels’ federal defamation lawsuit for $2 million in federal court in Columbus. The lawsuit was filed in January against several Columbus police officers.
The police department announced this year that an internal review found the arrest was improper but not planned or politically motivated. And the city attorney has said in responses to Daniels’ lawsuit that the city denies that it “approved of and/or condoned any alleged harassment.”
Chase Mallory, an attorney representing Daniels in her defamation lawsuit, said Thursday that while he doesn’t know the specifics involving the department charges, he would disagree with any finding “that the arrest wasn’t politically motivated or at least motivated by improper reasons.”
“From our initial review of the facts, it was clear that Stormy was targeted for a high-profile arrest,” he said.
Police Chief Tom Quinlan made the decision to charge the five officers departmentally because they “violated the Columbus Division of Police rules of conduct,” according to the release.
The release said the department wouldn’t immediately provide any further information on the findings against the officers because of the pending litigation and a concurrent FBI investigation into the activities of the vice unit.
A message seeking comment was left Thursday with the president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, which represents the officers.
The vice unit was disbanded in March. Quinlan has said that vice-related crimes going forward will be handled differently and with a more community-based approach.