Body-Cam Captures Columbus Cops Killing Unarmed Man in Bed

Columbus Police

Columbus Police

The Columbus Division of Police released body-camera footage late Tuesday showing the fatal shooting of 20-year-old Donovan Lewis, who was killed as he was still in bed and possibly holding a vape pen.

Authorities say that around 2:28 a.m. on Tuesday, officers attempted to serve a felony warrant at an apartment on Sullivant Avenue. Body-camera footage shows Lewis was shot just seconds after several officers entered his second-floor apartment, and less than a second after officers burst open his bedroom door. Lewis had one hand raised as Officer Ricky Anderson, who had a K-9, opened fire. The footage shows officers then handcuffing a wounded Lewis before rendering aid.

Lewis was pronounced dead at a local hospital around 3:19 a.m and no weapons were found in the apartment.

“There was, like, a vape pen that was found on the bed right next to him,” Columbus Chief Elaine Bryant said at a Tuesday press conference. “Donovan Lewis lost his life. As a parent, you know, I sympathize and I grieve with his mother. As a community, I grieve with our community but we’re gonna allow this investigation to take place.”

Court records show that officers were attempting to serve a warrant for improperly handling a firearm, assault, and domestic violence. Bryant said that Anderson, who has been on the force for 30 years and is in the Canine Unit, has been placed on leave pending an investigation of the shooting.

An attorney representing Lewis’ family pledged to “get justice” and asked for community support for the family of the 20-year-old he described as a “son, grandson, brother, and friend.”

“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,” Columbus attorney Rex Elliott said. “Frame by frame, the video reveals the truth—three white officers accompanied by an aggressive K9 dog shot an unarmed 20-year-old… as he sat up in his bed in compliance with police commands.”

Lewis’ family members did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Anderson could not immediately be reached for comment.

The incident marks the latest example of a search-warrant execution turned deadly. In February, Minneapolis Police Officers fatally shot 22-year-old Amir Locke inside an apartment moments after entering with a no-knock warrant for a case that had nothing to do with him. In March 2020, Louisville Metro Police Officers fatally shot Breonna Taylor while executing a similar no-knock search warrant in an investigation into the 26-year-old EMTs ex-boyfriend.

Unlike the shootings of Locke and Taylor, body-camera footage of the moments leading up to Lewis’ death shows officers knocking on a door for at least eight minutes and announcing themselves as law enforcement before two men open the door. The men were immediately detained by police as the Columbus Canine Unit began to clear the apartment.

Seconds later, a dog is seen barking at a back bedroom, which prompted Anderson to leash the K-9 and push the door open.

“We’re gonna send that dog in,” one officer is heard saying just before Anderson pushes open the door. The light from the gun of another officer is seen shining on Lewis as another officer yells, “Hands!”

Less than a second later, Anderson is seen firing a shot at Lewis as he starts to sit up in a bed pushed in the back corner of the room. In the footage, Lewis can be seen raising his right hand toward officers, while his left hand is still back near the pillow.

After the shooting, the footage shows an officer repeatedly yelling “hands” before demanding Lewis “crawl out here” twice. Lewis, however, remains hunched over on the bed. Eventually, officers enter the room, telling an injured Lewis to put his hands behind his back before eventually handcuffing him.

One officer is heard telling Lewis to “stop resisting.” Another video shows the handcuffed man being carried out of the apartment. Only then is Lewis seen getting medical aid.

“We’re committed to full transparency, to sharing as much as we can as quickly as we are able to do so—and we’re committed to holding officers accountable if there was any wrongdoing,” Bryant said on Tuesday. “As the chief, it is my job to hold officers accountable, but it is also my job to offer them support and that I give that to them through the process.”

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has also opened an investigation into Lewis’ death, which is just the latest fatal police shooting of a person of color in the state capital. Two years ago, a Columbus Police officer fatally shot unarmed 23-year-old Andre Hill in the garage of a home he was visiting. The same authorities fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’khia Bryant after she appeared to lunge at someone with a knife during a neighborhood brawl.

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