Outrage After Ohio Cop Kills Unarmed Black Man Donovan Lewis in Bed

“Columbus police think that they are the judge, jury, and executioner,” said one activist in response to the 20-year-old’s killing. “It’s time that this police department is held accountable.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 8-31-2022 by Common Dreams

A screenshot from police bodycam footage shows the moment before Columbus Police Department Officer Ricky Anderson fatally shot 20-year-old Donovan Lewis in his bed on August 30, 2022.

An unarmed 20-year-old Black man died Tuesday after being shot by a Columbus officer in the middle of the night while lying in bed—the third police shooting in Ohio’s largest city in about a week.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Columbus Police Department (CPD) released over 24 minutes of bodycam video footage showing officers going to an apartment building in the 3200 block of Sullivant Avenue to serve a felony warrant for Donovan Lewis.

The video shows officers knocking on an apartment door for more than eight minutes before a man answers and is arrested. Officers then detain another man inside the apartment and ask if anyone else is in the residence before warning that they would unleash a police dog.

In the footage, the dog runs to a bedroom door barking before Officer Ricky Anderson, its handler, cracks open the door and almost immediately fires a single shot from his pistol as a startled Lewis sits up in bed.

Officers are heard shouting “hands” and “come on out” at nearly the precise moment Anderson fires his gun. Lewis, who can be heard moaning in pain as he lay dying, was then commanded to “put your hands behind your back now” and “stop resisting” as he is handcuffed and subsequently carried out of the apartment.

WCMH reports medics took Lewis to Grant Medical Center in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 3:19 am.

“Columbus police shot Donovan Lewis within a second of opening the door to his room, and then, while he was dying, told him to ‘stop resisting,'” tweeted poet and activist Hanif Abdurraqib, a Columbus native whose first book, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, explores topics including police brutality.

“Police deploying that language (‘stop resisting’) has become so commonplace in the always-evolving scroll of ways police manipulate situations, manipulate reporters, manipulate victims of the violence they impose,” Abdurraqib added.

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said during a Tuesday press conference that Anderson shot Lewis when he appeared to raise his hand with something in it. That “something,” said Bryant, “was, like, a vape pen that was found on the bed next to him.”

“Every day, officers are put in compromising potentially life-threatening situations in which we are required to make split-second decisions,” the chief explained. “As the chief, it is my job to hold my officers accountable, but it’s also my job to offer them support.”

Lewis’ killing comes less than two years after then-Columbus Officer Adam Coy fatally shot unarmed 47-year-old Black man Andre Hill in the garage of a friend’s home while responding to a nonemergency disturbance complaint.

“After the shooting of Donovan Lewis, Ma’Khia Bryant, and many others it’s clear that Columbus police think that they are the judge, jury, and executioner. It’s time that this police department is held accountable,” tweeted Erick Bellomy, whose father was killed during a shooting inside his home.

Bellomy, who is the Ohio lead for the advocacy group Brady United Against Gun Violence, was referring to the 16-year-old girl shot dead in April 2021 whose killer, Officer Nicholas Reardon, was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The group Ohio Families United for Political Action and Change tweeted: “Say his name. Donovan Lewis. Marking 659 families here in Ohio since the year 2000 who have had a loved one murdered by a police officer.”

Ohio attorney and activist Katy Shanahan called the killing “fucking horrific,” and asked, “How do you reform your way out of this?”

Maria Bruno, public policy director at the LGBTQ civil rights group Equality Ohio, wondered “why they’re arresting a probation violation in the middle of the night to start [with], what probable cause they had to be in the house after they arrested the person already, and how they perceived a deadly threat by a guy laying in bed, at night, in under one second.”

Bruno added: “Is that big police budget making y’all feel safe yet?”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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