Donovan Lewis family attorney says Columbus shooting was not justified


COLUMBUS, Ohio —  An attorney for the family of Donovan Lewis, an unarmed Black man who was killed by Columbus police during an arrest this week, said Lewis was following commands when the officer fired a weapon, resulting in his “senseless” death. 

Officer Ricky Anderson shot Lewis, 20, once in the abdomen while he was in bed early Tuesday as officers attempted to arrest him on outstanding warrants for domestic violence and assault, among others. Lewis later died in a hospital.

“There was no justification — let me be clear — no justification for officer Anderson to shoot an unarmed man trying to get out of bed as police officers were instructing him to do,” said attorney Rex Elliott at a news conference Thursday. “Donovan was asleep before officers arrived and had no warning that CPD would burst into his apartment.” 

BODYCAM VIDEO RELEASED:Ohio police fatally shoot unarmed Black man in bed during failed arrest attempt

The attorney said the video showed Lewis unarmed and trying to come out of his room, where he was alone as officers approached. While attempting to get up, he was shot, Elliott said.

Sep 1, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Rebecca Duran the mother of Donovan Lewis can't watch the police body camera video of the shooting of Donovan Lewis by Columbus police on August 30th during a press conference at the Sheraton Capital Square on September 1, 2022.

Lewis’ mother, father, siblings, grandmother, aunt and close friends joined Elliott at the news conference Thursday where he played a clip from police worn body camera footage showing the moment Lewis was shot. Some members of Lewis’ family looked away and covered their ears.

Elliott said the family is calling for accountability. “They want this police officer punished, certainly, you know, not permitted to be out on the street again,” he said. “We anticipate filing an action against the police officer that engaged in this reckless conduct.”

Anderson is on paid administrative leave, a standard practice for Columbus Division of Police personnel involved in officer-involved shootings, Columbus Police Sgt. Joe Albert told USA TODAY. 

Lewis had a vape pen-type device in his hand at the time of the shooting, Columbus police Chief Elaine Bryant has said. She has not addressed whether police believed the device was a weapon.

Donovan Lewis

Anderson, a 30-year police veteran and assigned to the canine unit, shot Lewis while holding a leashed dog after police opened the bedroom door. Another officer, whose bodycam footage showed the shooting, stood to Anderson’s left in full view of the open bedroom door. After, an officer can be heard saying, “he’s got something in his hand.”

The vape device can be seen in the video on the bed next to Lewis as he moaned while being handcuffed by officers, who carried him outside. Officers were seen rendering medical aid for nearly five minutes before paramedics arrived, the video showed.

Elliot called Anderson’s actions “excessive, deadly force.” 

“How many more lives are going to be lost to this type of reckless activity? How many more Black lives will be lost? How many more families like Donovan’s will need to appear in news conferenced like this one before our leaders do enough to put a stop to these barbaric killings?” Elliott said.



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