Protestors rally outside Columbus Police headquarters in response to death of Donovan Lewis
Demonstrators Friday evening gathered outside the Columbus Division of Police Headquarters shouting “Donovan Lewis” and demanding serious reforms to policing.
Lewis, 20, was shot and killed in bed by officer Ricky Anderson when Columbus police went to Lewis’ Sullivant Avenue apartment to serve a warrant after 2 a.m. Tuesday.
The protests were peaceful. A diverse crowd of a couple of hundred people attended, gathering on the sidewalks in front of and across the street from the downtown police building.
“You should be able to sleep in your bed,” said Debera “Mama Diggs” Diggs.
Lewis was shot within a second of police officers opening his bedroom door. Police never gave him a chance, several speakers said.
His mother Rebecca Duran said they treated her son “like an animal,” in the moments after he was shot. Video shows the officers handcuffing his nearly lifeless body and patting him down, and telling him he was “alright,” and then carrying him as his clothes fell off. They lie him on the stairs they are trying to take him down before the police body camera footage ends.
“Police violence is gun violence, and it needs to be treated that way. And we are calling for reform within this police department,” said Erick Bellomy, an anti-gun violence advocate with Brady United.
Bellomy and others said there is no need to serve warrants at 2 a.m., he said the practice should be banned.
There were also calls by Bellomy and others for the Department of Justice to step in and investigate Columbus police for their use of force.
Speakers at the protest expressed frustration.
“No matter how we have stood up, no matter how long we have hit these pavements, no matter how long that we have disrupted things, this evil right here has been something to deal with,” said Adrienne Hood from the steps in front of the police building.
Despite numerous protests after police shootings throughout the decades and in recent years, there are still key reform issues that haven’t been acted on, Hood said.
Hood lost her son Henry Green to a Columbus police shooting in 2016.
“Standing on these steps makes me sick to my stomach,” Hood said.
She said politicians make promises for changes, but it never leads to the types of change that actually puts an end to police shootings and increases consequences for police.
Qualified immunity, a doctrine that shields police officers from repercussions in many circumstances, should be abolished, numerous speakers said.
Lewis’ father Daryl Lewis spoke to the crowd.
He was outraged with the portrayal of his son in the media. Police were at his apartment to serve him with a warrant accusing him of misdemeanors and felonies, but his son was more than that and didn’t deserve to be gunned down.
“He was so sweet and so kind,” and forgiving, Daryl Lewis said. “I don't want to let anybody discredit who he is.”
He loved music, his family and he looked out for the people he loved, his father said.
“He’d got a good soul. We all fall down. We all make mistakes. I made them. Everybody here has made them,” Daryl Lewis said.
He encouraged people to reconnect with loved ones they may have lost touch with and vowed to fight for change.
“I'm telling you when you get that phone call, it rocks your whole world. We're never gonna be the same, but we're gonna be up here and see change. That's what we're gonna do,” Daryl Lewis said.
Lewis’ great aunt said police acted like her great nephew was “Billy the Kid,”
“There was no reason to treat him like he was,” she said, he didn’t have that type of history.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting an investigation of the shooting and Anderson has been placed on leave during the investigation.