A Columbus, Ohio, cop fatally shot an unarmed 20-year-old Black man within seconds of opening his bedroom door on Tuesday, as officers attempted to serve him a warrant for his arrest.
Police body camera footage released to the public captured the killing.
According to Columbus Police Department Chief Elaine Bryant, police were looking to serve Donovan Lewis, 20, a felony arrest warrant on charges of improperly handling a firearm, assault, and domestic violence.
The bodycam footage shows at least three officers and a police dog arriving at Lewis’ home around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
Officers knock at the door of his apartment, cupping their ears against it and announcing their presence.
“We’re not leaving, we know you’re inside,” one of the officers says. “Come to the door.”
After about eight minutes, a man eventually answers the door, telling the officers that he was asleep. The cops enter the apartment and detain two people before announcing they’re going to send in a K-9.
The dog walks around the kitchen and then barks at the door of a bedroom. An officer opens the door, immediately draws his weapon, and fires off a shot while Lewis is sitting up in his bed.
Officers ask Lewis to crawl out of the room as he writhes in bed, before entering the room and handcuffing him.
“Get your hands behind. Stop resisting,” one of the officers says as they restrain him. “He’s pulling away.”
They begin searching him, during which an officer exclaims, “Let’s get him out to the medic.”
After being treated at the scene, Lewis was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at 3:19 a.m, about an hour after the shooting.
Bryant identified the shooter as Ricky Anderson, the K-9 unit officer and a 30-year veteran of the force.
Rex Elliot, the attorney for Lewis’ family, called Lewis’ death “utterly senseless” during a press conference Thursday morning.
“If you think Officer Anderson had some justification for firing his weapon, then ask yourself why the police officer that had his weapon drawn with the clearest view of Donovan Lewis did not discharge his firearm,” Elliot said. “There is no question that excessive deadly force was recklessly used by officer Anderson when he shot and killed an unarmed Black man."
Chief Bryant said Wednesday that police found a vape pen found on Lewis’ bed. In a frame-by-frame breakdown of the footage, the chief showed Lewis had his right hand raised and his left hand back towards the pillow.
“Donovan Lewis lost his life. As a parent, I sympathize and grieve with his mother. As a community, I grieve with our community. But we’re going to allow this investigation to take place,” Bryant said during Wednesday’s press conference, according to local news station NBC4.
The shooting is now the subject of an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
The fatal incident marked the third time in eight days that Columbus police fired their gun at a suspect, according to NBC4.
The department had already been facing scrutiny over the use of deadly force against Black people. In December 2020, former Columbus police officer Adam Coy shot and killed 47-year-old Andre Hill, an unarmed Black man, in his garage while responding to a 911 call he had nothing to do with. Coy is currently awaiting trial on murder charges.
In April 2021, Columbus officer Nicholas Reardon fatally shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant four times as she lunged toward someone with a knife. A grand jury declined to bring charges against Reardon earlier this year.
The incident is also another example of police killing an unarmed Black person while trying to serve them an arrest warrant. Earlier this year, 22-year-old Amir Locke was shot and killed by police as he slept in his Minneapolis home during a no-knock raid. In March 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed by Louisville police as she slept in bed next to her partner. Last month, the Department of Justice brought new charges against four officers involved in her killing.
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