COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The wrongful death lawsuit against a former Columbus police officer who shot an unarmed Black man in bed last August can proceed absent criminal proceedings, a Franklin County judge ruled Wednesday.
The family of Donovan Lewis, a 20-year-old shot in the abdomen by K9 officer Ricky Anderson during an attempted arrest, can move forward with their lawsuit against Anderson and several other Columbus police officers, according to Franklin County court records. The defense requested in March that the civil case be paused until criminal proceedings were completed.
Civil cases are normally stayed during criminal proceedings, but Judge Karen Phipps ruled that because a grand jury has not indicted Anderson, “imposing a stay at this time would prejudice” Lewis’ family. If a grand jury does return charges against Anderson, the civil case may be paused.
“Donovan Lewis was unarmed and gunned down in his bed nearly a year ago and the Court’s decision enables his family, including his 3-month-old son, to finally move forward with the civil case,” Rex Elliott, an attorney represented Lewis’ family, said in a statement. “While the City’s objective is delay, we intend to begin depositions in order to hold former Columbus Police Officer Ricky Anderson accountable for his reckless behavior and to seek full Justice for a young black man that should be alive and with his family today.”
Lewis died within minutes of being shot by Anderson, whose body camera footage showed the officer fired his gun within one second of opening the bedroom door where Lewis was in bed.
“My patience is running thin,” Lewis’ mother, Rebecca Duran, told NBC4 in October 2022. “I’m tired of being quiet. I’m tired of waiting for their due process because the ultimate answer is he didn’t get his.”
Last December, Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack announced he was handing off the case to two special prosecutors, who would review the investigative file and present the case to a grand jury. By February, the family filed their suit against Anderson and officers Harry Dorsey, Justin Dodrill, Jack Randall and Chance Knox, who were with Anderson to serve the arrest warrant.
Lewis’ family has argued that, among other things, Anderson and the other officers violated Andre’s Law by not immediately rendering aid and by moving Lewis’ body while he was critically injured. Body camera footage showed that officers waited a minute before calling for paramedics and approaching Lewis. Officers then carried Lewis down the apartment stairs, at one point dropping Lewis’ upper body, before laying him on the grass outside and rendering aid nearly four minutes after he was shot.
In March, Columbus police announced that Anderson retired in “bad standing” due to the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations into Lewis’ death.
Anderson’s attorney did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.