Police in Columbus, Ohio, have released body camera video that shows a police officer fatally shooting an unarmed Black man in his bed.
Donovan Lewis, 20, died Tuesday after being shot by Columbus Police Officer Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran with the Columbus Division of Police assigned to the K9 Unit, according to a police statement.
Rex Elliott, an attorney for Lewis’ family, said at a news conference Thursday morning that there was no justification for the officer to discharge his weapon.
“Donovan was unarmed, and he was abiding by police commands to come out of his room when he was shot in cold blood by Officer Anderson,” he said.
The shooting is under investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Anderson is currently on leave, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said at a news conference Tuesday. CNN has attempted to reach Anderson for comment and also reached out to the Fraternal Order of Police.
The shooting happened around 2 a.m. Tuesday at an apartment building where uniformed officers were serving a felony warrant for domestic violence and assault and improper handling of a firearm, Bryant said at the news conference. A news release by police indicated the male who was shot, later identified as Lewis, as the person sought in the felony warrant.
“The officers knocked on the door for several minutes … acknowledging themselves as Columbus Police officers,” Bryant said.
Police body camera video shows them knocking and calling out to occupants repeatedly for more than eight minutes. They called for “Donovan” by name several times.
Eventually, a man came to the door and was taken into custody by police, Bryant said. He told officers he’d been asleep, and they took a knife from his pocket. A second man inside the apartment was taken into custody about a minute later.
Officers asked if anyone else was inside the apartment, Bryant said, but were unable to determine that.
Anderson and a K9 were then called in by Columbus Police to see if anyone else was inside, Bryant said.
“Once the K9 officer arrived on the scene, additional announcements were made for anyone else inside to come out or the K9 was going to be released inside of the apartment,” Bryant said.
In the police body camera video, the K9 is seen barking outside a back bedroom door, then officers enter the apartment and warn they are going to send a dog in.
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 news conference, Bryant showed the body camera video frame-by-frame, asserting that the moment Anderson opened fire, it appeared Lewis was holding “something” in his hand.
A vape pen was later found next to Lewis on the bed, Bryant says. Once Lewis was handcuffed, video shows, officers began rendering aid.
Lewis was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 3:19 a.m., according to the Columbus Police statement.
Elliott, the family’s attorney, called Lewis’ death “utterly senseless” at Thursday’s news conference.
“How many more lives are going to be lost to this type of reckless activity? How many more young Black lives will be lost? How many more families like Donovan’s will need to appear in news conferences like this one,” Elliott asked, “before our leaders do enough to put a stop to these barbaric killings?”
The incident is just the latest in a string of deadly and controversial law enforcement shootings involving the city’s Black residents in recent years that have prompted protests over racial injustice and a review by the US Department of Justice into the Columbus Division of Police.
A Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputy fatally shot Casey Goodson Jr. in December 2020 as the 23-year-old tried to enter his home with a Subway sandwich. The deputy was working for the US Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force looking for violent offenders at the time, police said, but Goodson was not the individual being sought. A grand jury indicted the deputy on two counts of murder and one count of reckless homicide.
Later that month, a Columbus police officer fatally shot Andre Hill as officers responded to a report of a man who was sitting in his SUV for an extended period. The officer in that case was fired and charged with murder, and the city council later voted to approve a $10 million settlement to Hill’s 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 been arguing with another young woman over a messy home and unmade bed. Police body camera video showed Ma’Khia lunge at the other woman with a knife, and a grand jury later declined to indict the officer who fired the fatal shot.
Bryant, the police chief, said Tuesday officers are “put in compromising, potentially life-threatening situations” every day, “in which we are required to make split-second decisions.”
“As the chief, it is my job to hold my officers accountable, but it’s also my job to offer them support and make sure that I give that 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.”