Friday, a grand jury indicted former Columbus, Ohio, police officer Ricky Anderson for murder and negligent homicide in the 2022 death of Donovan Lewis, according to court documents.
Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the Columbus Division of Police who was assigned to the K9 unit, fatally shot Lewis, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, in bed at 2 a.m. on August 30, 2022, while uniformed officers were serving a felony warrant for domestic violence and assault and unlawful handling of a firearm. The warrant was being served to Lewis, police indicated previously.
In a statement, Anderson’s attorneys Mark C. Collins and Kaitlyn C. Stephens said, “To be clear, we fully anticipated this – with the grand jury process being under the dominance and control of the Special Prosecutors.” This case is not about whether or not Ricky Anderson made the decision to use deadly force, but rather why he made that decision. As the litigation progresses, the evidence will demonstrate that he was justified in his actions.
During a news conference in 2022, Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant displayed video frame-by-frame and stated that it appeared Lewis was holding “something” in his hand when Anderson opened fire. Then, Bryant stated that a vaporizer pen was discovered next to Lewis.
Officer Ricky Anderson violated the law when he fired and murdered Donovan Lewis in his bed while he was unarmed. Rex Elliott and Michael Wright, attorneys for Rebecca Duran, the mother of Donovan Lewis, said in a statement on Friday, “nothing has changed in almost a year since the CPD bodycam video showed this clearly.” “Despite Mr. Although the family of Lewis is delighted that his murderer will shortly face a jury of his peers, they are extremely disappointed that it took so long to reach this conclusion.
Civil Complaint Against Personnel
Since 2020, a series of law enforcement-involved murders have occurred in Columbus, which has prompted protests across the country, including in Columbus, where the death of John Lewis occurred.
Friday, in response to the indictment of Anderson, the Fraternal Order of Police released the following statement:
“While the grand jury serves an essential role in our justice system, the grand jurors only hear the evidence that the prosecutor wants them to hear. There is no defense attorney, no cross-examination, no judge, and there are essentially no regulations,” said FOP executive vice president Brian Steel. “An indictment is much simpler to obtain than a conviction, which may be why Franklin County Prosecutor Tyack appointed special prosecutors to this case – to spare his office the embarrassment of yet another acquittal.”
The Lewis family filed a civil complaint against the officers involved in Donovan’s death earlier this year. Multiple body cameras, it was argued, demonstrated that Lewis “never extended or raised his arm as if holding a weapon.”
In addition, “it took Anderson less than one second to draw his weapon, acquire a sight picture, and fire his weapon,” according to the lawsuit.
Lewis “posed no threat to any of the officers,” and the officer “could not have perceived a potential threat” when he decided to fire his weapon, according to the lawsuit.Anderson decided to recklessly discharge a single shot into Donovan’s bedroom, fatally wounding him. “Anderson acted recklessly and willfully when he chose this option over the alternatives he disregarded,” the lawsuit claims.
The lawsuit alleged that Anderson had six other “nonlethal” options available to him, such as using his Taser or a K9.
Participation of the Ministry of Justice
In February, after nearly two years of evaluation, the Department of Justice released its reform recommendations for the Columbus police department.
The 14-page report recommended reworking the function of community liaisons so that officers serve extended terms in the role, receive more extensive training, and are thus better equipped to solve problems.
The report included suggestions to enhance training, recruiting, and accountability, as well as a recommendation to establish a leadership group comprised of community members, police department personnel, and Civil Service Commission representatives.
Friday, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther stated, “The grand jury process is essential to upholding public trust and accountability, and I thank the jurors for their service.” “The independent investigation conducted by the BCI and the appointment of an independent prosecutor are examples of concrete reforms that help ensure the fair and impartial handling of police-involved deaths.”