COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — An attorney representing the family of an unarmed Black man who was fatally shot by Columbus police during an attempted arrest is speaking out.
Donovan Lewis, 20, was killed early Tuesday when police attempted to arrest him on a warrant for assault, domestic violence, and improper handling of a firearm.
Body camera footage released later in the day in a media briefing attended by Mayor Andrew Ginther showed that Officer Ricky Anderson fired less than one second after the door to a bedroom with Lewis inside was opened. An object that may have been a vape pen was next to Lewis, but he was unarmed and in bed.
Warning: Some may find this body camera footage disturbing
“The bodycam footage released yesterday afternoon says it all,” a statement from Columbus attorney Rex Elliott said. “In literally the blink of an eye, a Columbus Police Officer shot and killed Donovan Lewis, an unarmed young black man who was alone in his bed in the middle of the night. As a result of this entirely reckless behavior by a Columbus Police Officer, a family is left to grieve the loss of such a young soul. …
“Frame by frame, the video reveals the truth — three white officers accompanied by an aggressive K9 dog shot an unarmed 20-year-old in cold blood as he sat up in his bed in compliance with police commands.”
Elliott pledged to “get justice” for Lewis and asks for support for the family, calling Lewis a “son, grandson, brother and friend.”
Rep. Joyce Beatty, whose district includes most of Columbus, condemned the shooting.
“Donovan Lewis was shot by the officer less than one second after his bedroom door was opened,” Beatty said in a statement. “It appears to be clear the officer involved did not take the necessary time to assess the situation before choosing to employ deadly force.”
At the media briefing, Ginther did not pass judgment on the actions of Anderson, a 30-year member of the force, but said, “A mother has lost her son today in the city of Columbus.”
In December 2020, an unarmed Black man was shot by a Columbus police officer, and within days Ginther fired the officer, Adam Coy, who is awaiting trial. The city later reached a $10 million settlement with the family of the victim, Andre Hill. A police civilian review board was established around this time.
In Lewis’ death, the footage shows Anderson, a K9 officer, wrangling the dog, who had been sent in to search the apartment in the 3200 block of Sullivant Avenue. Lewis had the dog leash in one hand while holding his weapon in the other. He fired shortly after the bedroom door was opened.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has taken the lead in the matter, as it does any shooting involving a Columbus police officer per an agreement between the agencies.
Elliott called for peace during the investigation, as did Columbus Urban League President Stephanie Hightower.
“We want to have calm in our community,” she said. “We want to stack hands with our community to say, ‘Hey, the mayor has put a process in place to establish a civilian review board, there is the BCI who is going to come in and investigate, and we need to allow that process to take place.”
Hightower said the Columbus Urban League will be hosting a community forum Saturday to help grow the trust between the police and the community. She is hoping city leaders like Ginther, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant, and others will be in attendance to prove they want to work on this relationship.
Lewis’ family is expected to hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday.