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Lawyer says police killed black man in Ohio “meaninglessly”

The attorney says an Ohio police officer used “excessive lethal force” when he shot Donovan Lewis, 20, in his bed.

Police in Columbus, Ohio, came under fire after posting body-camera footage showing an officer shooting a black man in his bed while trying to issue an arrest warrant.

Donovan Lewis, 20, was unarmed when Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department, shot him in the early hours of Tuesday, The Columbus Dispatch reported, citing a city police press conference.

Police Chief Elaine Bryant told reporters that less than a second passed between Anderson pushing the bedroom door as a police dog barked before the officer fired a single shot in Lewis’ stomach.

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Bryant said it appeared that Lewis had a vaping device in his hand, and no weapons were found in the apartment. The police chief said police have a warrant for Louis’s arrest on charges of domestic violence, assault and improper handling of a firearm.

The incident is the latest in a long line of unarmed blacks at the hands of police in the United States, many of which have sparked massive demonstrations calling for an end to bloody police violence and racial injustice.

On Thursday, Rex Elliott, a lawyer representing the Lewis family, said not enough has happened in Columbus to change police practices despite the many cases of white officers in the city shooting black people.

“There is no doubt that Officer Anderson used excessive lethal force recklessly when he shot and killed an unarmed black man,” Elliott said during a news conference.

“How many lives will be lost due to this kind of reckless activity? How many young black lives will be lost?” he said. “How many families like Donovan will need to appear at press conferences like this before our leaders do enough to put an end to these barbaric killings?”

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In 2021, the US Department of Justice agreed to review the practices of the Columbus Police Department after a series of fatal police shootings of blacks – including the killing of 16-year-old Machia Bryant in April 2021 – and the city’s response to the 2020 racial justice protests.

In addition, a three-year police contract approved last year provided $200,000 for takeovers of up to 100 officers with at least 25 years of experience, with the goal of clearing floors of employees who might not be on board with the department’s new directive.

Donovan Lewis
Lewis, 20, was unarmed when he was fatally shot in the early hours of Tuesday [Family of Donovan Lewis via AP Photo]

Meanwhile, the Ohio Bureau of Investigation said it would investigate Lewis’ murder.

Mark Collins, a lawyer representing Anderson, the officer who shot Lewis, said Thursday that the investigation should look at “the totality of the circumstances.”

In such cases, “20/20 hindsight is expressly forbidden, because unlike all of us, officers are not afforded the luxury of armchair reversal when faced with rapidly developing and volatile confrontations in dangerous situations,” Collins said.

In his comments on Thursday, Elliott questioned the need for an operation in the early morning. “The truth is that felony orders are executed every day in daylight hours,” he said, adding that he plans to file a civil case against Anderson and the city.

In May last year, Columbus reached a $10 million settlement with the family of Andre Hill, the man who was shot dead in December 2020 as he walked out of a garage holding his cell phone. Officer Adam Coe has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and is due to go on trial in November.

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In December, the city also agreed to pay $5.75 million to those injured during the 2020 racial justice and police brutality protests.

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