COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The union representing officers with the Columbus Division of Police is speaking out on the process that led to the indictment of a former officer in the shooting death of an unarmed man.

Ricky Anderson
Ricky Anderson

Former Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson was indicted Friday, nearly one year after the shooting death of Donovan Lewis, 20.

Columbus police were serving a warrant in the early morning hours of Aug. 30, 2022, when Lewis was shot by Anderson one second after Anderson burst into a room where Lewis was sleeping. Lewis was unarmed and sitting on his bed when he was shot.

Now, Fraternal Order of Police Executive Vice President Brian Steel is criticizing the fact that it took a grand jury more than six months to file the indictment against Anderson.

“The family and I share the same concern with the way this grand jury worked,” Steel said Saturday at an event in support of a Columbus officer shot in the line of duty last month. “It took a year. That was far too long. Whether we think or whether the FOP thinks Ricky is guilty or not guilty does not matter. It should never take a year.”

In December 2022, Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack announced a grand jury would be convened to decide on charges against Anderson. Those charges of murder and reckless homicide were announced with Friday’s indictment.

“The reality is that there is a different justice system for citizens and a different justice system for police officers, this never should have taken this long,” Lewis family attorney Rex Elliot said during a press conference Friday. “Unfortunately, the length of time that it has taken to indict a police officer here, it causes us all to distrust the process.”

Steel’s remarks come one day after the union vice president was critical of Tyack’s office. On Friday, Steel issued a statement that said, in part, “An indictment is far easier to secure than a conviction, which may also explain why Franklin County Prosecutor Tyack appointed special prosecutors to the case – to save his office the embarrassment of another acquittal.”

Anderson retired in bad standing from the department in March, meaning he cannot have a gun or his department badge.

“He deserves to trial; if he’s found guilty by a jury of his peers, then hey, I’m sorry, Ricky. It was a bad day to be the police for you,” Steel said. “That’s not what we do, the FOP; we defend the process.”

Anderson turned himself in on Friday and is scheduled to appear in court on Monday. He remains in custody in Franklin County Jail.

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.

Anderson is the third Franklin County law enforcement officer since 2020 to be indicted for shooting and killing someone in the line of duty. Former Columbus police officer Adam Coy is facing murder charges for the December 2020 shooting death of Andrè Hill, while former Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade faces two murder charges and one reckless homicide charge for the shooting death of Casey Goodson Jr., also in December 2020. Coy’s trial is on hold as he battles cancer while Meade’s trial is currently scheduled for October.