Donovan Lewis: Body camera video shows Columbus, Ohio police officer fatally shooting unarmed 20-year-old black man

Donovan Lewis, 20, died Tuesday after being shot by Columbus Police Officer Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the Columbus Police Division assigned to the K9 unit, according to a police statement.

Rex Elliott, an attorney for the Lewis family, told a news conference Thursday morning that there was no justification for the officer to discharge his weapon.

“Donovan was unarmed and complying with police orders to leave his room when he was shot in cold blood by Officer Anderson,” he said, along with the mother, the father, Lewis’ siblings, grandmother aunt and family friends gathered around him. . They weren’t ready to comment or answer questions, the attorney said, but they were “just some of the many people whose lives were forever changed by the events of Tuesday morning. “.

The shooting is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Anderson is currently on leave, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said at a press conference on Tuesday.

The shooting happened around 2 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment building where uniformed officers were serving an arrest warrant for domestic violence and assault and mishandling a firearm, Bryant said at the press conference. A police press release said the man who was shot, later identified as Lewis, was the person sought in the arrest warrant.

A screenshot of body camera footage shows Columbus Police Officer Ricky Anderson and K9 moments before shooting and killing 20-year-old Donovan Lewis.

“Officers knocked on the door for several minutes … recognizing themselves as Columbus police officers,” Bryant said. Two men were taken away

Police body camera video shows them knocking and calling out to occupants repeatedly for more than eight minutes. They called “Donovan” by name several times.

Eventually, a man came to the door and was arrested by police, Bryant said. He told the police that he was sleeping and they took a knife out of his pocket. A second man inside the apartment was arrested about a minute later.

Officers asked if anyone else was inside the apartment, Bryant said, but could not determine, and Anderson and a K9 were later called by Columbus police to see if anyone else was inside.

“Once the K9 officer arrived on the scene, further announcements were made for anyone else inside to come out or that the K9 was going to be released inside the apartment,” said Bryant.

In the police body camera video, the K9 is seen barking outside the back bedroom door, then officers enter the flat and warn that they are going to send a dog.

An officer is seen opening the bedroom door, where a man is seen on a bed.

Bodycam video shows Anderson firing a single shot at a man, later identified as Lewis, moments after opening the bedroom door.

During the press conference, Bryant showed frame-by-frame body camera video, saying that the moment Anderson opened fire, it looked like Lewis was holding “something” in his hand.

A vape pen was later found next to Lewis on the bed, Bryant said. Once Lewis was handcuffed, video shows officers began to provide assistance.

Lewis was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:19 a.m., according to the Columbus police statement.

Lewis’ death follows a series of other police shootings

The officer’s attorneys expressed sympathy for Lewis’s family in a statement Thursday, but said officers “are forced to make split-second decisions in response to the actions of others.”

“When analyzing shootings involving police officers, we must look at the totality of the circumstances and we are expressly prohibited from using 20/20 hindsight, because unlike all of us, officers do not have the luxury of thinking in their armchair when faced with rapidly changing and volatile encounters in dangerous situations,” said the statement from attorneys Mark Collins and Kaitlin Stephens. “For this reason, the law permits a reasonable officer to err, as does the law allows us, as non-police officers, to deceive ourselves.”

“We are confident that the investigation will be thorough,” they said, “and we certainly hope that the process of any future legal proceedings will be fairer than what we have seen in the recent past.”

Bryant, the police chief, said Tuesday that officers are “put into compromising, life-threatening situations every day” “in which we are required to make split-second decisions.”

“As a leader, it’s my job to hold my officers accountable, but it’s also my job to offer them support and make sure I give it to them through the process,” Bryant said. “If they do the right things for the right reasons, we will support them. If they do something wrong, they will be held accountable.”

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, left, and Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant speak to reporters about the shooting of Donovan Lewis.

But Elliott, the family’s attorney, called Lewis’ death “totally senseless” at Thursday’s press conference, saying “Officer Anderson recklessly used lethal force when shooting and killed an unarmed black man”.

“How many more lives are going to be lost because of this type of reckless activity? How many young black lives will be lost? How many more families like Donovan’s will have to appear at press conferences like this,” he said. asked Elliott, “before are our leaders doing enough to stop these barbaric killings?”

The incident is just the latest in a series of deadly and controversial shootings involving black residents of the city in recent years that have sparked protests against racial injustice and a review by the U.S. Department of Justice in the Columbus Police Division.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy shot dead Casey Goodson Jr. in December 2020 as the 23-year-old attempted to enter his home with a Subway sandwich. The deputy was working for the US Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force tracking violent offenders at the time, police said, but Goodson was not the person they were looking for. A grand jury charged the deputy on two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide.
Later that month, a Columbus police officer shot and killed Andre Hill as officers responded to a report of a man sitting in his SUV for an extended period. The officer in this case was fired and charged with murder, and the city ​​council then voted to approve a $10 million settlement to the Hill family, the largest in the city’s history.
Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, was killed in another shooting last April when Columbus police responded to her foster home, where Ma’Khia had argued with another young woman over a messy house and an unmade bed. Police body camera video showed Ma’Khia lunging at the other woman with a knife, and a grand jury later declined to indict the officer who fired the fatal shot.

Lewis’ family appreciated the support they have received from the community so far, Elliott said, and they asked that any gatherings or protests remain “peaceful, supportive and constructive.”

“The reality is that if we don’t come together and let it be known how much it bothers us all, we will never see change,” the attorney said.

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