Weeks after Donovan Lewis’ family filed a civil lawsuit against a Columbus police officer for his wrongful death, the same cop retired. Now relatives of the 20-year-old are speaking out and demanding answers about how this was allowed.
Lewis was fatally shot by Anderson on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2022, while in bed. The officer and his colleagues were on a mission to arrest Lewis based on several arrest warrants. Video shows after they, including a K-9 unit, entered his home, opened his bedroom door, and within a split second Anderson shot Lewis dead.
Anderson says he believed the vape pen in Lewis’ hand was a weapon and fired his gun because he believed it was a viable threat. A criminal investigation into whether Anderson’s action was justifiable has been launched and is currently pending.
On Friday, March 3, the Columbus Police Department released a statement to the press saying former-Officer Ricky Anderson “retired in bad standing due to the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations into the death of Donovan Lewis,” according to WSYX.
In February, Lewis’ family filed a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the city of Columbus and all five of the white officers serving him the warrant on that night.
The claim accuses Anderson, specifically, of battery, breach of duty, intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, failure to render aid, and violating the young man’s constitutional rights, when he shot him, CBS News reports.
The lawsuit further states the officers did not render medical aid to Lewis immediately after he was wounded.
With such a complaint against him, lawyers for the family say it was “cowardly” for him to retire. They note that not only have they filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, arguing he violated their loved one’s civil rights, but have called for his termination months ago.
Robert Gresham, one of family’s attorneys, said, “The family has been asking for officer Anderson to be fired since August 2022, when the shooting happened.”
“The culture of CPD is still an issue,” Gresham explained. “It’s what allowed Anderson to be on the force. it’s what allowed him to shoot and kill when it didn’t need to happen.”
USA Today reports another statement was released by three other lawyers representing the family, Rex Elliott, Michael Wright, and Ben Cooper.
Their remarks expressed the family’s outrage, saying, “This family deserves so much better. Mr. Lewis’ family and our community will not forget about him and the way in which city leaders have so poorly handled this totally unnecessary killing.”
Anderson remains eligible for his pension despite retiring in bad standing. If he is cleared in the criminal probe his retirement status could be changed to good standing, pending approval of the Columbus police chief.
Special prosecutors are reviewing the case and plan to present it to a Franklin County grand jury. A date for when has not been made public.
Some details about the shooting have been released to the masses: Lewis did not have a weapon in his home during the tragic incident and video shows him in bed when the shooting takes place.
The retiree’s lawyer, Mark Collins, says his client, who has not been charged with murder or any misconduct, believed he was in danger when he shot Lewis.
“Sometimes there are situations when they have to make split-second decisions,” Collins said, “in that situation, he believed what he saw was a gun and that’s why he fired because his life was in danger.”
Anderson did not retire with a spotless record. In 2004 he was fired from the department after admitting to accepting payment for guarding a bank despite not showing up for the job. The firing was overturned by a federal arbitrator in November 2004.
According to his police Internal Affairs Bureau history, including the Lewis shooting, he has had a total of 10 complaints filed against him since 1991, when he started his career with the CPD.