Above: Body camera footage shows the moments leading up to the shooting of Donovan Lewis.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The Columbus Division of Police has released the personnel file for an officer who shot and killed an unarmed Black man, which showed he was previously terminated and won his job back.
The release of Officer Ricky Anderson’s record comes three days after the funeral for the man he shot, 20-year-old Donovan Lewis. In his recent performance reviews from 2020 and 2019, Anderson received high marks from his supervisors saying he exceeded expectations in virtually every category. These included communication, dependability, job knowledge, problem-solving and officer safety.
Supervising Sgt. Steve Redding also noted that the 30-year-veteran of the force “often volunteers for extra assignments with SWAT missions.”
“Ofc. Anderson is constantly aware of the surroundings for his safety and the safety of others, even in confusing or stress-filled situations,” Redding wrote.
However, the 2019 review also noted an issue under the job knowledge category, and that Anderson “received some corrective disciplinary action for Division Directive violation.”
In May 2004, however, the Director of Public Safety terminated Anderson from the Columbus Division of Police, according to his personnel record. The record did not have any details on the cause, but Anderson and the Fraternal Order of Police challenged the firing, according to a Department of Public Safety spokesman.
“The allegation that was the basis of the termination was not related to a use of force,” said spokesperson Glenn McEntyre.
Anderson had been fired for taking pay for guarding a bank when he wasn’t there, the Columbus Dispatch reported in 2004. But the arbitrator in Anderson’s firing dispute ruled that the city couldn’t prove which hours he didn’t work, and the city did not have a consistent record of firing officers with criminal charges.
The arbitrator then reinstated Anderson’s employment with CPD in November of the same year, saying the officer should have faced a 30-day suspension instead.
Also included in the report were accounts of Anderson’s involvement in cases prior to the Donovan Lewis shooting. In a 2018 stolen car chase on Interstate 71, Anderson dropped stopsticks on the roadway, forcing the car to stop. In two separate cases recorded in 1995 and 2012, he received awards for running into burning homes to rescue people inside.
Anderson was placed on administrative leave after shooting and killing Lewis. Anderson was serving an arrest warrant with other officers and a K9 at an apartment. Within one second of opening the door and while wrangling the K9, Anderson shot Lewis as he sat up in a bed against the back corner of the room, body camera video showed.
CPD Chief Elaine Bryant said Anderson fired his gun when Lewis appeared to raise a hand with something in it. Moving frame-by-frame through the video showed the man raising his right hand toward officers, while he put his left hand back toward a pillow.
“There was, like, a vape pen that was found on the bed right next to him,” Bryant said.
CPD later confirmed that its officers did not find any weapons around Lewis. The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is reviewing Anderson’s involvement in the shooting.
Lewis’ killing happened less than two years after a Columbus police officer lost his job for fatally shooting Andre’ Hill, an unarmed Black man. That officer, Adam Coy, mistook Hill’s cell phone for a gun. He was later charged with murder.