COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The City of Columbus’ Civilian Police Review Board has been fully operational for less than two months and they already have a big task ahead of them.
The board could recommend disciplinary action for the Columbus police officer who fatally shot 20-year-old Donovan Lewis last week while serving an arrest warrant. That’s if it’s determined that the officer was in the wrong.
The members of this board were appointed to their positions in 2021, but it only became fully operational on July 11. Tuesday was their first meeting since the incident following CPD officer Rickey Anderson shot Donovan Lewis.
Since going live, the inspector general’s office, which is in charge of the board, has received 88 complaints about CPD officers. Inspector General Jacqueline Hendricks said 58 of those were closed for being deemed not enough evidence to proceed or it didn’t have to do with CPD.
Only 30 of those 88 cases have been opened into investigations for either misconduct, 27, or excessive use of force, 3. Now it is still unclear to the board if any of those 30 complaints are about the Lewis case, but from what was said at the meeting, they are aware that this is coming.
A lot of Tuesday’s meeting was figuring out kinks on how to proceed with these disciplinary hearings, how they will know if a complaint has already been filed or if it was from someone with good standing, and how long they have to proceed with a recommended punishment.
During the meeting, multiple board members used Lewis’ case as an example trying to determine when the civilian review board will hold its hearings if there is also a criminal investigation involved.
“Again, just using the concrete examples of the three recent shootings, is there something that because this is a public hearing that we can’t just simply ask, was there a complaint filed regarding Donovan Lewis,” Board Member, Rich Nathan asked.
Hendricks said the board will not hold their hearings until after a criminal investigation is conducted, if there is one, and their portion will mainly focus on administrative faults.
“What we would be doing is looking into the actions of the officer to see if his actions violated any CPD policies and procedures. That would always be what our investigation would be. So, it would not be investigating the criminal investigation, it would be their actions to see if their actions violence policy and procedure,” Hendricks said.
The Inspector General said the board will have 90 days to close the case from the day the complaint is filed, but extensions can be made in certain situations. At this time, we are not sure when the hearings for the Lewis case will take place.