Columbus, Ohio, police shoot useless black man in mattress and launch bodycam video

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Ohio police on Wednesday released bodycam footage of an officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man in his bed. Donovan Lewis, 20, was shot and killed around 2 a.m. Tuesday by a police officer trying to serve a warrant for his arrest, Columbus Dispatch reported.

Video shows an officer kicking open a bedroom door and shooting Lewis while he sits up in bed. Lewis was unarmed and was found next to a vape pen. Officers went to the home with a police dog to serve Lewis arrest warrants for domestic violence, assault and improper use of a firearm, officials said at a news conference, according to Dispatch.

“At this time, it is critical that video of last night’s shooting and all available facts be shared for the sake of complete transparency,” Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin said in a tweet that included the video and with one local news article was linked about the incident. The state criminal investigation department is conducting an independent investigation, he said, and could forward evidence to a grand jury.

The Columbus Police Department, Mayor’s Office and Attorney General’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A police department press release identified the officer who shot Lewis as Ricky Anderson, who has been on the service for 30 years and is assigned to the canine unit.

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“Donovan Lewis lost his life. As a parent, I feel sympathy and mourn with his mother,” Police Commissioner Elaine Bryant said at the news conference. “I mourn with our community, but we will allow this investigation to take place.”

Lewis’ family wiped away tears during a news conference Thursday when their attorney, Rex Elliott, described the officer’s actions as reckless and inexcusable. He said there was “no question that the video is telling all of us, each and every one of us, exactly what happened in the early hours of August 30.”

In the video, officers knock on the apartment door several times and identify themselves before two men come out and handcuff them. Then the police officers stand at the door at gunpoint and loudly announce that they will send a dog.

“Columbus Police. If you’re inside, report yourself,” says an officer. A man can be heard from the off saying: “You are asleep.” The officer repeats: “Come out. Come out now.”

An officer then follows a police dog to Lewis’ room and opens the door. Immediately after a light illuminates Lewis, who is leaning on his mattress, Anderson fires. As Lewis squirms and moans in bed, he is told to “crawl” out of the room and stop resisting arrest. He was handcuffed to the bed and died in a hospital shortly thereafter.

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“Police shot and killed Donovan Lewis while he was in one of the most vulnerable places a person can be – in bed. As the investigation unfolds, some may point to the fact that police were attempting to execute an arrest warrant when they shot Mr Lewis, as if to suggest that a suspected offense warrants immediate execution,” Kelly Sampson, director of racial justice at the Anti-gun violence organization Brady said in a statement.

Elliott, the Lewis family’s attorney, asked why the police executed the warrant in the middle of the night.

“I think all of us in this room probably had parents telling us that nothing good happens at 2 a.m.,” he said. “Chief Bryant’s statement that ‘well, we’re doing this because we need to be sure they’re home’ is nonsense. The reality is that arrest warrants are being executed every day in daylight.”

The murder is the latest example of an unarmed black American being shot dead by police. Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans, according to a 2019 Northwestern University study. The numbers are even clearer in Ohio, where blacks are 4.5 times more likely to be killed by police than whites.

In December 2020, Andre Hill, a 47-year-old unarmed black man, was shot dead four times by a Columbus police officer while leaving a friend’s house. His family received a $10 million settlement from the city. Last year, an officer shot dead Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old black woman, outside her home. The officer was acquitted of criminal misconduct following an investigation.

Lewis’s killing was the third police shooting in the city in the past week, according to the Columbus Urban League. The organization called a community forum on Saturday to discuss the incident.

“Yesterday’s shooting provokes painful, conflicting reactions. We understand that serving a warrant for a crime creates a highly volatile and dangerous situation. And yet the body camera video is as heartbreaking as the fact that another black man has lost his life,” Stephanie Hightower, the group’s president, said in a statement. “Regardless of the final conclusion, our community deserves an independent, thorough and transparent investigation by all relevant authorities.”

Lewis is “a typical 20-year-old kid” with a loving family and a huge circle of friends, Elliott said. He had “challenges in life, but overall he was a very good person and was loved by the people behind me and others,” said the lawyer.

He called for responsibility and change.

“As a city, as a community, as people, we should be outraged by what happened Tuesday morning and each of us should demand immediate reform,” Elliott said. “So not even a life – let alone a young life – is taken that way anymore.”

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