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‘He Has Something in His Hand’: Ohio Police Release Body Camera Video of Officer Fatally Shooting Unarmed Black Man Awaken in Bed, ‘With Vape Pen’

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation will determine whether police are criminally culpable for the death of a Columbus man who was lying in a bed before being awakened and shot by an officer this week.

Columbus Officer Ricky Anderson, a K-9 handler, and other officers were executing an arrest warrant for Donovan Lewis on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Body camera shows Anderson opening up the door to a bedroom where Lewis, 20, was sleeping and shooting him within approximately two seconds. Lewis was sitting up in the bed and raised his head to look at the officers when he was shot.

Columbus police officials said Lewis appeared to raise his hand with something in it.

“There was, like, a vape pen that was found on the bed right next to him,” Columbus police chief Elaine Bryant said during a press conference 12 hours after Lewis’ early morning shooting.

The officers were at the apartment on Columbus’ Sullivant Avenue to apprehend Lewis on outstanding warrants for domestic violence, assault and felony improper handling of a firearm. Reports show Lewis was wanted for a misdemeanor assault on his pregnant girlfriend.

Anderson is a 30-year veteran with the Columbus Division of Police. He held the leash on the police dog with one hand and shot directly into the room with the other hand. It is unclear where Lewis was hit.

The officers handcuffed Lewis shortly after he was shot and carried him down three flights of stairs to render aid as they waited for an emergency team to arrive. Lewis was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital at 3:19 a.m.

Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther has promised “transparency, accountability and cooperation” from the police division and asked that the public be patient and give them grace as they “uncover all the facts.”

The body-worn camera video shows officers knocking on the apartment door more than nine minutes before a man opened it.

“I am not Donovan,” the man first shouts through the door.

The officers detain the man and another who was lying on the couch before entering the apartment. They ask the other men if there’s anyone else in the apartment. The second man tells the police that he doesn’t know.

“We’re going to send the dog in there in a second, so if he doesn’t come out,” one officer says.

“We don’t know if somebody’s in there or not,” the man says.

“You know if someone is in an apartment you’re in. He’s going to get bit by a dog,” an officer replies.

One of the men tells the officers that someone may be in the home sleeping.

About three minutes later, Henderson lets the dog into the apartment. The dog detects someone in a back bedroom. The team of officers then enters the home, with Anderson leading the way with the police dog. Anderson opens a closet door at first. Then he opens the bedroom door less than two seconds before firing the fatal shot.

“He has something in his hand,” the officer wearing the body camera says instantly. He repeatedly yells, “Hands.”

A wounded Lewis is moving around in the bed, and the officers ask him to raise his hands and order him to “crawl out” of the room. Instead, Lewis continues to toss around in the bed and lets out two moans. The officers go into the room and handcuff the man, who lies on his side with his stomach on the bed.

Columbus policy calls for the Ohio Bureau of Investigation to review any police-involved shooting in the city that leads to death or injury, reports show. The chief said the public should “trust the process” and wait on the results of the investigation.

“We’re committed to full transparency to sharing as much as we can as quickly as we are able do so — and we’re committed to holding officers accountable if there was any wrongdoing,” Bryant said. “As the chief, it is my job to hold officers accountable, but it is also my job to offer them support and that I give that to them through the process.”

“There is a reason why it is in an independent investigation,” she added.” It’s going to be conducted thoroughly and it is an external investigation to ensure the absence of bias. If (officers) do the right thing for the right reasons we will support them. If they do something wrong, they will be held accountable.”

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