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Donovan Lewis’ family calls for the firing of Ricky Anderson, the Columbus cop that killed him

Donovan Lewis
Provided photo
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Donovan Lewis was shot by a Columbus Police officer on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.

Updated September 9 at 12:37 p.m.

Donovan Lewis’ mother, Rebecca Duran, said Thursday she wants to see Ricky Anderson, the Columbus police officer who shot the 20-year-old Black man, to be fired.

“The officer needs to be fired. Not on pay leave, he's not on vacation, we're not on vacation, he sure as heck should not be either,” Duran said.

Duran made the plea during a press conference announcing the family is bringing on a second attorney, Dayton attorney Michael Wright, who represented the family of Andre Hill.

“It seems like just yesterday, I was standing up here in front of you all, for the family of Andre Hill,” Wright said in front of Columbus City Hall. “And, you know, that really aggravates me. I'm really angry. I'm really sad. The Columbus Police Department has to stop this. They have to make changes in their policies and their procedures so that this won't happen anymore.”

Hill was killed by former Columbus police officer Adam Coy in December 2020. Coy was fired from the department within a week of the shooting.

It’s been over a week since Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson killed Donovan Lewis within moments of opening his bedroom door in the middle of the night though a fellow officer never fired his weapon. Lewis wasn’t armed.

Lewis family attorney Rex Elliott said there’s clear-cut evidence showing what happened in Lewis’ Sullivant Avenue apartment, and that should be enough for the Columbus police department to act.

“The reality is that video is never going to change. That video tells us all what happened on Tuesday, August 30. It doesn't lie. It doesn't shade the truth. It tells us what happened. And these investigations need to reach a quick conclusion based on what we all saw on that video,” Elliott said.

Anderson has been with the department for about 30 years. He is on paid administrative leave.

Donovan Lewis protest Duran
Renee Fox
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WOSU
Rebecca Duran, Donovan Lewis’ mother, sits second from the right on the steps outside police headquarters during a protest on Friday, September 2, 2022.

Glenn McEntyre, assistant director of the Columbus Department of Public Safety, said if Anderson is demoted, suspended or fired, it won't be until the end of the criminal investigation and will be ultimately decided by Safety Director Robert Clark.

McEntyre has not yet responded to a question inquiring why Coy was fired so quickly but any discipline Anderson may receive won’t be until the criminal investigation is completed.

He states in an email that the department is “legally bound by the investigative / disciplinary processes dictated by the Columbus City Code, the (memorandum of understanding) between the City of Columbus and BCI, and by the (police union’s) collective bargaining agreement.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is investigating the shooting. Once the investigation is completed, BCI will forward the investigation to the Franklin County prosecutor, McEntyre said. Then, attorneys with that office will present evidence to a grand jury, to determine if Anderson will be charged with a crime.

If he is not charged, the city’s Office of the Inspector General “may conduct an administrative investigation if a complaint is filed or if the Civilian Police Review Board initiates a complaint in order to determine if the officer’s actions were within policy,” McEntyre said. If Anderson is charged with a crime, that inspector general won’t investigate until it is adjudicated.

The inspector general will send the findings of the investigation to the Civilian Police Review Board, which could make recommendations to police department administrators for disciplinary action and policy changes.

Then, any recommendation regarding discipline be reviewed by the chain of command, as required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, McEntyre said.

Then, any recommendations for suspension, demotion or termination will be determined by the safety director, Robert Clark.

When Coy was fired after the Andre Hill shooting, Ned Pettus was the city’s safety director. He held a disciplinary hearing six days after the shooting.

"The actions of Adam Coy do not live up to the oath of a Columbus Police officer, or the standards we, and the community, demand of our officers," Pettus stated in a press release announcing Coy’s termination.

Coy has pleaded not guilty charges of murder, felonious assault and dereliction of duty in Franklin County Common Pleas Court. He is scheduled to appear for a hearing Nov. 7.

During the Thursday press conference, Elliot said he and Wright want Columbus police to make changes that bring unnecessary police shootings to an end.

“The question we've been asking after every one of these events happens is, ‘hey, we can't allow this to happen to another human being.’ That's an important statement. But the question we should be asking is, ‘why does this continue to happen in the United States of America?’” Elliott said.

Duran said efforts city leaders have made since Hill’s death aren’t enough.

“After Andre Hill, a lot of things have been put in place. There was a lot of talk, but there hasn't been really a lot of action. And I want to see real action,” she said.

After Hill’s death city council passed Andre’s Law, which requires officers to provide aid to the people they injure, along with requiring the activation of body cameras.

Despite that law, Duran said as a health-care worker, she doesn’t believe her son received proper care.

“Six minutes plus went by. I work in healthcare and I know that the faster the aid is provided, the higher the likelihood of survival. And there was absolutely nothing done. There was egregious errors up to the point of moving him around knowing that he was shot. It was wrong,” Duran said. “Nothing they did to him was careful or kind, knowing that he was he was he was mortally injured.”

Duran said Friday 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 a set of stairs for a few second before carrying him to the ground below.

The first evidence of first aid provided by police appears three minutes and 46 seconds after Lewis was shot. Medics arrived on the scene and began providing care approximately two minutes and 30 seconds later.

Elliott said the family wants to see several key changes.

“We need to get rid of middle-of-the-night arrest warrants unless there's a dangerous exigent circumstance. We need to have police officers that are trained to come into these communities that understand these communities. And we need police officers to be trained on how to take care of people that have been hurt at scenes,” he said.

Tariq Stewart, Lewis' brother, said his brother had attended rallies calling for an end to police brutality himself.

"It's crazy to see that someone who's passionate and adamant about those type of things, that can happen to them as well. (Police shootings are) not something that he was oblivious to. We know these things happen. But we're still here asking the same question, 'why?' We put in money, we put in manpower, nothing changes, ever. It's the same thing," Stewart said.

Corrected: September 9, 2022 at 12:39 PM EDT
An earlier version of this story stated that the police body camera footage ended before evidence of first aid provided by officer.
Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. Fox joined the WOSU newsroom from the Tribune Chronicle/Vindicator in the Youngstown area, where she’d been a reporter since 2014. Contact Renee at renee.fox@wosu.org.