COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The mother of an unarmed Black man killed by Columbus police sat beside two attorneys as she described life without her son for the past 16 days.
During an interview with NBC4 on Thursday, Donovan Lewis’ mother, Rebecca Duran, and family attorneys reacted to new details in the employment record of Officer Ricky Anderson and spoke about policy changes made by Columbus police following the 20-year-old’s death. An attorney alleged that Anderson violated Division protocol after he shot and killed Lewis in a Hilltop apartment on Aug. 30.
Duran said she received a “frantic call” from Lewis’ girlfriend, who warned “something bad had happened” as officers attempted to serve Lewis with an arrest warrant, but she was not prepared to hear the news that would alter her life.
“Initially, I thought they arrested him,” Duran said. “I just thought — ‘Maybe it was a simple arrest’ — I had no idea my baby would be dead.”
Columbus police ‘absolutely violated Andre’s Law,’ attorney claims
Within a second of Columbus police opening the door to a bedroom in which Lewis had been lying in bed, Anderson, a K9 officer, fired a single fatal gunshot, according to bodycam footage released by police 12 hours later.
Officers stood outside Lewis’ bedroom, commanding him to show his hands and “crawl out here,” the footage shows. The officers enter the bedroom about 30 seconds after the gunshot and handcuff Lewis, telling him to “stop resisting” in the process.
Additional body camera footage from other officers at the scene shows that just over a minute after Lewis was shot, an officer called paramedics and asked other officers to start rendering aid. One officer rushed outside to retrieve a first aid kit, according to the footage.
“Pat him down. Make sure he’s good,” an officer says, before they begin rendering aid to Lewis, and seconds later, decide to take him outside.
Officers are then seen carrying Lewis down the steps by his arms and legs from the second story of his apartment building.
“Slow down! Slow down! Slow down! I can’t keep up! I got no grip,” the officer carrying Lewis’ upper body said. While attempting to adjust his grip, the officer slipped on a step and dropped Lewis’ upper body.
Once officers get Lewis down the steps, they laid him on the grass and began to render first aid. At this point, about three-and-a-half minutes have gone by since the shooting.
One officer performed chest compressions on Lewis, and medics arrived just under six minutes after the gunshot.
Additional bodycam footage shows new details in Lewis’ death
One of Lewis’ family attorneys Michael Wright — who also represented the family of Andre’ Hill, a 47-year-old Black man killed by Columbus police officer Adam Coy in 2020 — said officers “absolutely violated Andre’s Law” by failing to render immediate aid and by moving Lewis’ body around after being shot.
“It was almost like a choreographed scene when they were saying ‘stop resisting,’ they were doing things to protect themselves as opposed to giving him life-saving treatment that could’ve saved his life,” Wright said.
In the case of Andre’ Hill, officers failed to provide medical assistance for about 10 minutes after he was shot, prompting Columbus City Council to implement Andre’s Law in February 2021 to require police to render aid in cases where someone is harmed.
Robin Davis, a spokesperson for Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, said in an email that the city feels and shares Duran’s grief and pain over losing her son, assuring community members that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations is reviewing the shooting to determine whether there is cause for criminal charges.
“Be assured that internal reviews will take place on every aspect after any criminal investigations conclude and that the Inspector General has already committed to her own review after the criminal investigation,” Davis said.
Columbus police eliminate some pre-planned arrest warrants
About a week after Lewis’ death, Chief Elaine Bryant announced a change to division policy: No pre-planned arrest warrants, she said in an email to police personnel, will be served at private residences for all misdemeanor offenses between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. without prior approval from a lieutenant or above.
The 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 an officer’s “sole reason” to go to an address is to serve an arrest warrant.
“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.”
Rex Elliott, an attorney representing Lewis’ family, said while the change is a step in the right direction, there’s still progress to be made as it doesn’t apply to all arrest warrants. Duran, however, was more cynical.
“I think in my own opinion the quote-unquote change they made ab the warrants – in my words, its crumbs,” Duran said. “They’re throwing crumbs at the people to keep them calm, under control, to not rage against them but whenever there’s a ‘but’ or an ‘if’ it still can happen.”
Officer Anderson’s personnel files released
Personnel records released by Columbus police on Wednesday indicated that Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the force, had been terminated from — but quickly reinstated to — the force in 2004.
Anderson reportedly had been fired for taking pay for guarding a bank when he wasn’t there. An arbitrator, however, reinstated Anderson after he ruled the city couldn’t prove which hours Anderson did not work but received pay for.
“That is such a character flaw that raises a big question to me why someone like that is walking around at night with guns and dogs,” Elliott said.
Duran said the two men who were in Lewis’ apartment the night he died had been invited by Lewis because they reportedly did not have a place to stay.
“I think that speaks volumes to what kind of person he was,” she said.