Ohio police fatally shoot unarmed Black man in bed during failed arrest attempt, video shows

·5 min read

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Community organizations asked for a transparent investigation Wednesday, a day after Ohio police released body camera footage of a fatal police shooting that occurred earlier this week.

Donovan Lewis, 20, died at a hospital following the shooting early Tuesday. Columbus police say officers were at the scene to arrest Lewis on multiple warrants including domestic violence, assault, and felony improper handling of a firearm.

Police body-cam footage shows an officer opening a bedroom door in an apartment and immediately shooting Lewis, who was in bed. Lewis appeared to be holding the vape pen before he was shot, said Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant. No weapon was found.

Bryant has not addressed whether police believed the device was a weapon, a determination that will come during the probe by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Video: Police officer shot nearly immediately after opening bedroom door

Lewis was fatally shot around 2 a.m. Tuesday after Columbus police had gone to his apartment to 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 probation violation and misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and assault filed Aug. 10 in connection with Lewis' girlfriend, who is pregnant.

Body camera footage released on Tuesday by Columbus police shows K-9 officer Ricky Anderson at Lewis' bedroom door. Officers had spent between eight to 10 minutes attempting to get someone to open the door of the apartment, Bryant said, and detained two other people in the apartment after they eventually opened the door.

SEVEN SECONDS OF SHOOTING: What 14 police body cam videos show in Jayland Walker's death

Bryant said officers then spent additional time trying to get Lewis to come out, including sending a canine into the apartment. The dog barked at the closed bedroom door repeatedly, alerting officers to the presence of someone inside.

Video shows that when officers entered the apartment, Anderson holsters his firearm to put the dog back on the leash and then redraws his firearm 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 into the door opening and firing a gunshot at Lewis, who appears to have raised his head from lying on his left side on the bed and is leaning on his left arm when he is hit in the abdomen and goes face down onto the bed.

An officer yells "Hands!," repeatedly for several seconds before telling Lewis to "crawl out here" twice. But the wounded Lewis remains on the bed.

More than 20 seconds later, an officer says "I'm going in, cover me." Two officers go in and begin to tell Lewis at least twice to put his hands behind his back. One officer says, "I need cuffs. I'm out of cuffs."

An officer picks up Lewis' right arm and begins to fold it back to handcuff him and Lewis lets out an audible moan as one of the officers says, "Put your hands behind your back, now."

A few moments later, an officer says: "Stop resisting."

Police later carried Lewis out of the apartment to the grassy area in front of the building, providing CPR and other first aid for the nearly five minutes that elapsed before paramedics arrived. Lewis was taken to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, where he died .

Opinion: Two years after Breonna Taylor's death, federal charges show how to end police violence

'Shooting evokes painful, conflicting responses'

Meanwhile, the Columbus Urban League is planning a public forum Saturday following the fatal shooting as warrants for Lewis' arrest on felony and other charges were being served.

The details of the forum have not yet been finalized, but Urban League President Stephanie Hightower said the shooting of Lewis — the third shooting in eight days involving a Columbus police officer — showed the reasons why the community demanded a civilian review board and inspector general in 2020.

"Yesterday's shooting evokes painful, conflicting responses," Hightower said. "We understand that serving a felony warrant creates a highly volatile and dangerous situation. And yet, the body camera video is as gut-wrenching as is the fact that another Black man lost his life."

The family of Lewis released a statement late Wednesday, saying the video revealed the truth of what happened.

"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," the statement said. "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 his bed in compliance with police commands."

CALL FOR NATIONAL DE-ESCALATION TRAINING: Arkansas brutality claims are nation's latest to put police training under microscope

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 cannot be one more young Black life taken this way."

Lewis' family is expected to speak publicly at a news conference on Thursday morning.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, who hired Bryant last year, said that “regardless of the circumstances, a mother has lost her son in the city of Columbus.”

Ohio BCI also investigating police shooting of 17-year-old

The U.S. Justice Department agreed in 2021 to review Columbus police department practices after a series of fatal police shootings of Black people and the city’s response to 2020 racial injustice protests.

Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is also investigating another incident where a Columbus police officer fired a gun and hit a teenage suspect Saturday on the Near East Side, sending him to the hospital.

Columbus police said the 17-year-old male is in stable condition. Charges are pending against the teen, who has not been identified, and two other occupants of the car he was in.

Community organizations asked for a transparent investigation on Wednesday, a day after Columbus police released body camera footage of a fatal police shooting that occurred on Tuesday morning — as well as two other recent shootings. All three police shootings occurred in the last nine days.

Contributing: Cole Behrens, The Columbus Dispatch; The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Donovan Lewis may have held vape pen, Columbus police chief says