COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A former Columbus police officer charged with murder and reckless homicide was in court as a criminal defendant in front of a judge for the first time Monday.
Ricky Anderson was indicted Friday in the killing of Donovan Lewis last August. Body camera footage released by Columbus police shows Anderson firing his gun one second after opening the door to a bedroom where Lewis was seen sitting up. Officers were serving a misdemeanor arrest warrant on Lewis at the time.
During an arraignment, defendants are informed of the charges against them and will enter a plea. Anderson, who pleaded not guilty, was issued a $500,000 surety or appearance bond as well as a $20,000 recognizance bond today at the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
You can watch Anderson’s arraignment in full in the video player below.
Defense attorney Kaitlyn Stephen argued that that a “reasonable bond” not exceed $250,000.
Prosecuting attorneys Howard Merkle and Gary Shroyer did not request a specific amount, but asked Magistrate Pamela Browning that a bond be set consistent with murder and reckless homicide charges.
Browning also noted two conditions: That Anderson not possess any firearms and that he surrender his passport, expired or otherwise.
“After arraignment begins the process of what’s called discovery,” Cochran law firm attorney Fanon Rucker said. “Discovery is just what it means. We’re trying to discover from a defense perspective everything that the state has to justify the charges and to show what they intend to present as evidence, to establish the elements of the offenses that have been charged.”
Rucker is not affiliated with this case and was consulted as a legal expert.
Stephens said the defense’s main argument will be showing Anderson was justified in his actions.
“We as the defense have to prove by preponderance of evidence whether or not he had a subjective belief that he was in imminent fear of serious bodily harm or death…” Stephens said.
Stephens said they plan to present that Anderson honestly believed his life was in danger and he believed Lewis was holding a firearm. She said what is also going to come into play is mistake instruction, which means the supreme court allows police officers to potentially mistake what they see given the circumstances of the situations they are put in.
Lewis’ family and their lawyers were in the courtroom Monday. Lewis’s mother, Rebecca Duran, was filled with emotions. She did not speak on camera, but on Friday after the indictment came out, she said this is a day she has been praying for but also dreading. She said this is step one, now she wants him convicted.
“I’m sure it’s going to be emotional, but he deserves to look the people in the face that he directly affected that he hurt,” Duran said.
Duran said she plans to attend every hearing.
The shooting happened on Aug. 30, 2022, with charges being formally filed by a grand jury on Friday, almost one year later. The length of time it took to file the charges has drawn criticism from both Anderson’s family as well as the city’s police union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
Lewis’ family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against Anderson and four other Columbus police officers. A judge ruled in June that the lawsuit can proceed even though civil suits are usually postponed while criminal cases move through the courts. How Friday’s grand jury indictment will affect the civil suit remains to be seen. Online court records currently show Anderson is set to be deposed in the civil case in early October.
Columbus police announced in March that Anderson retired in “bad standing” from the department, meaning he can no longer have his gun or his department badge.
Before Monday’s court proceedings, Anderson was being held in Franklin County Jail.
The case is now going to be assigned to a judge. Anderson does not have another court date scheduled at this time.
About one week after Lewis’ shooting, Columbus Chief of Police Elaine Bryant issued a new policy changing when arrest warrants can be served by police, particularly barring overnight hours for misdemeanor offenses.