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Investigators probe Columbus Police shooting of unarmed man

Police bodycam footage shows three police officers and a K9 in a small apartment.
Columbus Division of Police
Police bodycam footage just moments before an officer shot and killed 20-year-old Donovan Lewis.

Columbus police and city leaders promise a complete and transparent investigation after the police shooting of an unarmed Black man.

Columbus police released body cam footage Tuesday hours after an officer shot and killed 20-year-old Donovan Lewis.

The video shows officers executing a 2:00 am raid of a Sullivant Avenue apartment. Lewis was wanted on several outstanding warrants.

The video shows officers knocking on the door, detaining two men and asking if anyone else was in the unit. After yelling, “We’re sending the dogs in!,” officers release a police dog and search the apartment. An officer holding the dog opens a back bedroom door and immediately fires his gun.

Lewis was shot as he sat up in bed with something in his hand, that authorities say turned out to be a vape pen.

After the shooting Lewis was taken to Grant Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.

The investigation is now in the hands of The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

"When our officers have done the right thing, then we're going to stand with them, and when they do the wrong thing, we're going to hold them accountable. We can't do either of those things right now, until this investigation is complete,” said Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther.

Police went to the apartment to serve a warrant for domestic violence, assault, and improperly handling a firearm.

Police identify the officer who shot Lewis as Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the force. He was placed on leave during the BCI investigation.

In a statement, the Columbus NAACP said these incidents leave behind grieving family members, unanswered questions from the community and a further divide between the citizens and police. It calls for a thorough and comprehensive investigation.

Columbus Police chief Elaine Bryant offered condolences to the family. “As a parent, I sympathize and grieve with his mother. As a community, I grieve with our community, but we’re going to allow this investigation to take place,” said Bryant.

This was the third police shooting in eight days.

In response to the shooting, the Columbus Urban League will host a community forum Saturday.

Saturday's forum will invite mayor Andrew Ginther, police chief Elaine Bryant, congresswoman Joyce Beatty, and human service providers in the Black community to engage in conversation.

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, congresswoman Joyce Beatty said, "I am horrified to see another young, unarmed Black man killed by police in our city."

"Donovan Lewis was shot by the officer less than one second after his bedroom door was opened," Beatty said. "It appears to be clear the officer involved did not take the necessary time to assess the situation before choosing to employ deadly force."

Urban League president Stephanie Hightower says the forum will begin a healing process for the community.

"To maintain calmness, to really look at and hear those voices of Black men and women and young people," Hightower said. "So that we can go begin to go back to the drawing board on how we build trust in this community and with law enforcement."

Hightower adds that mental health experts will be on the call to talk about mental illness, domestic violence, and other issues permeating local communities.

"It is another heartbreaking situation for our community and particularly for our Black men and young Black men," she said. "It just really exacerbates the PTSD and mental health issues we are wrestling with in the urban community."

More details about the event will be available in the coming days.

Tyler Thompson was a reporter and on-air host for 89.7 NPR News. Thompson, originally from northeast Ohio, has spent the last three years working as a Morning Edition host and reporter at NPR member station KDLG Public Radio and reporter at the Bristol Bay Times Newspaper in Dillingham, Alaska.