COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A 20-year-old is dead after he was fatally shot early Tuesday by a Columbus police officer attempting to serve an arrest warrant on him, with body camera footage showing that the man, who was Black, was unarmed and sitting in bed next to what may have been a vape pen.
The footage was publicly revealed Tuesday afternoon, hours after the shooting, in a media briefing attended by Mayor Andrew Ginther. The victim was identified as 20-year-old Donovan Lewis, and court records show officers were serving a warrant for improperly handling a firearm, assault, and domestic violence.
“A mother has lost her son today in the city of Columbus,” Ginther said.
NBC4 is presenting an edited and redacted version of the body camera footage below. Some may find its contents disturbing. A description of the events follows.
Officers went to an apartment building in the 3200 block of Sullivant Avenue to serve the warrant. The footage showed them knock on an apartment door for 8-10 minutes before a man answered and was taken into custody. Officers saw another man inside the entrance of the apartment and detained him as well.
They asked both occupants if anyone else was inside, and neither would say. Police then yelled inside to warn anyone inside they were releasing a K9, with no response.
The video showed the dog move to the kitchen and start barking at a back bedroom door. The dog’s handler, Officer Ricky Anderson, moved to hold the dog back and open the door, while another officer followed him. Both had their guns drawn and pointed in the direction of the door.
Within one second of opening the door, Anderson shot Lewis as he sat up in a bed against the back corner of the room. Police said Anderson shot Lewis while he was wrangling the K9.
Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the force, was placed on leave pending an investigation of the shooting.
Chief Elaine Bryant said Anderson fired his gun when Lewis appeared to raise a hand with something in it. Moving frame-by-frame through the video showed the man raising his right hand toward officers, while he put his left hand back toward a pillow.
“There was, like, a vape pen that was found on the bed right next to him,” Bryant said.
After the shooting, the footage showed officers putting Lewis in handcuffs while he was on the bed and then carrying him out of the apartment. It wasn’t clear from the video where he was shot, as police pulled his pants off outside but also appeared to try to treat the left side of his chest.
After trying to treat his gunshot wound at the scene, medics took him to Grant Medical Center in critical condition. He was pronounced dead at 3:19 a.m.
“Donovan Lewis lost his life,” Bryant said. “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.”
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation said it is taking the point on the investigation, as it does on any shooting involving Columbus police based on an agreement between the agencies.
“Every day, officers are put in compromising potentially life-threatening situations in which we are required to make split-second decisions,” Bryant said. “As the chief, it is my job to hold my officers accountable, but it’s also my job to offer them support.”
“When our officers have done the right thing, we’re going to stand with them,” Ginther said. “And when they do the wrong thing, we’re going to hold them accountable. We can’t do either of those things right now until this investigation is complete.”
The shooting comes less than two years after a Columbus police officer lost his job days after shooting a Black man who turned out to be unarmed. In that case, Officer Adam Coy apparently mistook Andre Hill’s phone for a possible gun. Hill was 47 when Coy responded to a nonemergency call and found Hill in a neighboring driveway.
Following that shooting, Ginther moved to bring in an outsider to run Columbus’ police department, selecting Bryant as chief in June 2021.
At the media briefing, Ginther and Bryant also offered updates on two other recent shootings that involved Columbus police:
- Bryant reviewed body camera video from an Aug. 22 incident in the 3600 block of Eakin Road. Someone called police and told them people were walking around outside with guns. An officer fired his weapon while responding, but none of the four people arrested had any gunshot wounds when taken into custody. Ohio BCI declined to look into this case because no one was hit.
- In an Aug. 27 incident, officers stopped a car with four people inside near East Main Street and Seymour Avenue. A 17-year-old and an 18-year-old got out of the back and displayed handguns, Bryant said. In that moment, an officer shot the 17-year-old while the 18-year-old ran away. An officer chased that other teen down and arrested them. The 17-year-old survived the shooting, and police found at least two guns at the scene. Ohio BCI is investigating that case as well.