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Former Ohio cop facing murder charge after allegedly killing 'unarmed, young, black' felony suspect holding vape pen
Composite screenshot of WBNS 10TV YouTube video (Left: Officer Ricky Anderson | Right: Donovan Lewis)

Former Ohio cop facing murder charge after allegedly killing 'unarmed, young, black' felony suspect holding vape pen

A former cop in Ohio is now facing a murder charge after he allegedly shot and killed a young man while attempting to serve the young man a warrant.

At around 2 a.m. on August 30, 2022, Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran cop, and at least two other officers with the Columbus Division of Police knocked on the door of the apartment where 20-year-old Donovan Lewis lived. According to Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant, the officers announced themselves as police and demanded to see Lewis as they had a felony warrant for his arrest. The charges listed on the felony warrant included domestic violence, assault, and a weapons violation.

The officers waited outside for eight minutes before someone opened the door. Police then placed two other men who had been in the residence in handcuffs and demanded to see Lewis. At least one of them stated that he did not know whether Lewis was in the residence since he had been asleep.

Police then released a K-9 officer into the residence, and the service animal indicated the presence of a third person behind a closed bedroom door. Officer Anderson, who had been handling the K-9 cop, then opened the bedroom door as another officer shouted, "We're gonna send that dog in!"

As the door opened, the officers yelled, "Hands!" Just seconds later, Officer Anderson fired his service weapon and struck the man, later identified as Lewis, who had been laying in bed, bodycam footage later indicated. The bullet hit Lewis in the abdomen and lodged in his pelvis, injuring several internal organs along the way. The officers then issued several other orders at Lewis, handcuffed him, then "carried him outside the apartment," WBNS-TV reported. He was then taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Bodycam footage also indicated that Lewis had been holding "something" in his hand just before he was shot, Police Chief Bryant said in a press conference last September. A vape pen was later found on Lewis' bed, but no weapon was found in the area. Reports suggest that Lewis had been holding the vape pen when he was fatally struck.

Anderson was quickly placed on administrative leave, and last December, the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office announced that it had opened a formal investigation into the incident. Three months later, Anderson resigned from the department in bad standing.

According to Rex Elliot, a lawyer representing Lewis' family, Anderson had a history of troubling interactions with the public in his role as a police officer. Anderson had "over 60 complaints of excessive force" made against him during his "less-than-distinguished career," Elliot stated, and at least some of those complaints had been "sustained." Elliot also alleged that Anderson had even been fired for "theft" once but was subsequently reinstated after an arbitration process. The family has filed a wrongful death suit against Anderson and officers.

On Friday, the prosecutor's office announced that a grand jury had indicted Anderson on charges of murder and reckless homicide. Elliot suggested that the Lewis family feels relieved at the indictment. "The bodycam footage ... says it all," claimed Elliott. "In literally the blink of an eye, a Columbus Police Officer shot and killed Donovan Lewis, an unarmed, young, black man who was alone in his bed in the middle of the night."

"Frame by frame, the video reveals the truth," Elliot also stated. "Three white officers accompanied by an aggressive K9 dog shot an unarmed 20-year-old in cold blood as he sat up in his bed in compliance with police commands."

Police Chief Bryant expressed sympathy for the Lewis family but also noted that oftentimes, officers are forced "to make split-second decisions." "As the chief, it is my job to hold my officers accountable, but it's also my job to offer them support and make sure I give that to them during the process," Bryant said. "If they do the right things for the right reasons, we will support them. If they do something wrong, they will be held accountable."

Mark Collins, an attorney representing Anderson, claimed that the shooting was a "justified" use of force. The case is "not about if Ricky Anderson made the decision to use deadly force, but why he made the decision to use deadly force," Collins said. "As we progress through litigation, the evidence will show that it was because he was justified in doing so."

A statement from the Columbus chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police also cautioned against a rush to judgment against Anderson. "While the grand jury plays an important role in our system of justice, the grand jurors only hear the evidence the prosecutor wants it to hear," said Brian Steel, the chapter's executive vice president. "There is no defense attorney, no cross-examination, no judge, essentially no rules."

Kate McSweeney Pishotti, the director of public safety for the city of Columbus, issued a statement as well: "The death of Donovan Lewis is a tragedy for all involved. We respect the process of fully independent investigations for police-involved shootings. The grand jury has spoken, and now we must let this case work through the criminal justice system."

Anderson is scheduled to be arraigned in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Monday.

Family files wrongful death lawsuit against Columbus police officer who shot Donovan Lewiswww.youtube.com

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