Donovan Lewis may have been holding a vape pen, says Columbus police chief
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Community organizations called for a transparent investigation Wednesday, a day after Ohio police released body camera footage of a fatal police shooting earlier this week.
Donovan Lewis, 20, died in a hospital after the shooting early Tuesday. Columbus police said officers were on the scene to arrest Lewis on multiple warrants, including domestic violence, assault and felony mishandling of a firearm.
Police body camera footage shows an officer opening the door to a bedroom in an apartment and immediately shooting Lewis, who was in bed. Lewis appeared to be holding the vape pen before he was shot, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said. No weapon was found.
Bryant did not say whether police believe the device was a weapon, a decision that will come pending investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Video: Police officer shot dead almost immediately after opening bedroom door
Lewis was fatally shot around 2 a.m. Tuesday after Columbus police attended his apartment in an attempt to arrest him on multiple warrants. Court records show Lewis was wanted on a felony charge of improper handling of a firearm, as well as a misdemeanor violation of probation and misdemeanor domestic violence and assault charges filed August 10 in connection with Lewis’ girlfriend, who is pregnant.
Body camera footage released Tuesday by Columbus police shows K-9 officer Ricky Anderson at Lewis’ bedroom door. Officers spent between eight and 10 minutes trying to get someone to open the door to the apartment, Bryant said, and detained two other people in the apartment after they finally opened the door.
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Bryant said officers then spent more time trying to get Lewis out, including sending a dog into the apartment. The dog repeatedly barked at the closed bedroom door, alerting officers to the presence of someone inside.
The video shows that when officers entered the apartment, Anderson put away his gun to re-leash the dog, then drew his gun again before opening the bedroom door. Another officer yells, “Hands!”, as Lewis sits up in bed and the light from that officer’s gun shines on Lewis.
In less than a second, the video shows Anderson reaching for the door opening and firing a shot at Lewis, who appears to have raised his head as he lay on his left side on the bed and is leaning on his left arm when hit. abdomen and go face down on the bed.
An officer shouts “Hands!” repeatedly for several seconds before telling Lewis to “crawl here” twice. But Lewis, injured, remains on the bed.
More than 20 seconds later, an officer says “I’m going in, cover me”. Two officers come in and start telling Lewis at least twice to put his hands behind his back. An officer says, “I need handcuffs. I have no more.
An officer grabs Lewis’ right arm and begins to bend it over to handcuff him and Lewis lets out an audible moan as one of the officers says, “Put your hands behind your back, now.”
Moments later, an officer said, “Stop resisting.
Police then carried Lewis out of the apartment to the grassy area in front of the building, providing CPR and other first aid for nearly five minutes which elapsed before paramedics arrived. Lewis was taken to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, where he died.
“The shot evokes painful and contradictory responses”
Meanwhile, the Columbus Urban League is planning a public forum on Saturday after the fatal shooting while warrants for Lewis’s felony and other charges were pending.
Forum details have yet to be finalized, but Urban League President Stephanie Hightower said the Lewis shooting — the third shooting in eight days involving a Columbus police officer — showed the reasons for which the community demanded a civilian review board and an inspector general in 2020.
“Yesterday’s shooting evokes painful and conflicting responses,” Hightower said. “We understand that serving a felony warrant creates a very volatile and dangerous situation. And yet the body camera video is as heartbreaking as the fact that another black man lost his life.”
Lewis’ family released a statement Wednesday night saying the video revealed the truth about what happened.
“In the blink of an eye, a Columbus police officer shot and killed Donovan Lewis, an unarmed young black man who was alone in bed in the middle of the night,” the statement read. “Frame by frame, the video reveals the truth – three white officers accompanied by an aggressive K9 dog shot an unarmed 20-year-old in cold blood as he sat up in bed in accordance with police orders .”
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The statement said Lewis’ family is grieving and asking for peaceful support.
“Rest assured, we will get justice for Donovan and do everything in our power to stop these senseless killings,” the family said. “There can’t be another young black life taken this way.”
Lewis’ family is expected to speak publicly at a press conference on Thursday morning.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, who hired Bryant last year, said “regardless of the circumstances, a mother has lost her son in the city of Columbus.”
Ohio BCI is also investigating the police shooting of a 17-year-old
The US Department of Justice agreed in 2021 to review the practices of the Columbus Police Department after a series of fatal police shootings against black people and the city’s response to the 2020 racial injustice protests.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is also investigating another incident in which a Columbus police officer fired a gun and struck a teenage suspect Saturday in the Near East, sending him to the hospital.
Columbus police say the 17-year-old is in stable condition. Charges are pending against the teenager, who has not been identified, and two other occupants of the car he was in.
Community organizations called for a transparent investigation on Wednesday, a day after Columbus police released body camera footage of a fatal police shooting on Tuesday morning – along with two other recent shootings. All three police shootings took place in the past nine days.
Contributor: Cole Behrens, The Columbus Dispatch; The Associated Press