COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Division of Police is changing its policy on when an arrest warrant can be executed after an officer shot and killed 20-year-old unarmed Black man in the middle of the night.
Chief Elaine Bryant sent a memo on Thursday to all sworn personnel that “no pre-planned arrest warrants shall be served at private residences for all misdemeanor offenses, including domestic violence, and non-violent felony offenses between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without the prior approval of a lieutenant or above.” The new policy does not apply to tactical units, like SWAT, or task force personnel, the memo stated.
A pre-planned warrant, the division said, is where and officer’s “sole reason” to go to an address is to serve an arrest warrant. The new policy is effective immediately and until revised or rescinded by Bryant.
“You all do an amazing job daily,” Bryant said in the memo. “This does not change the good work you do but temporarily changes how you do it. As I have said before, I support you and will always look for ways to help you do your job safely and effectively.”
Around 2:30 a.m., Donovan Lewis was fatally shot inside a Hilltop apartment on Aug. 30 by Columbus police Officer Rick Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the force, who was serving him with an arrest warrant. Body camera footage showing that Lewis sitting in bed.
At public press conferences following Lewis’ death, his family’s attorney Rex Elliott has denounced the late-night practice and urged the department to get rid of middle-of-the-night warrants unless in exigent, dangerous cases.
“I’d like to know why in the world they are executing warrants at 2 o’clock in the morning,” Elliott said at a Sept. 1 news conference. “I think all of us in this room probably had parents tell us ‘Nothing good happens at 2 o’clock in the morning.'”
In a press conference on Thursday, the 20-year-old’s mother donned a “Justice for Donovan Lewis” shirt as the attorney representing Lewis’ family, Rex Elliott, announced that two Dayton attorneys — Michael Wright, who was represented Andre’ Hill’s family, and Robert Gresham — will join his “best team possible” to protest what they called a “sickening and shameful experience for Donovan and his family.”
Lewis’ death is being investigated by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations, as are all fatal officer-involved shootings.