“At this time, for full transparency, it is critical to share the video taken last night and all the facts available,” said the Columbus City Council president. Shannon Harding tweeted It includes video and links to local news articles about the event. He said the National Criminal Investigative Service is conducting an independent investigation and may present evidence to a grand jury.
Columbus police, the mayor’s office and the state attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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“Donovan Lewis lost his life. As a parent, you know, I sympathize with his mother, and I grieve for his mother,” Police Chief Elaine Bryant said at a news conference. “I am saddened by our community, but we will allow this investigation.”
In the video, police repeatedly knock on the apartment door and identify themselves before two men come out and are handcuffed. The police then stood at the door, pointed their guns at them, and announced loudly that they would be sending dogs in.
“Columbus police. If you’re inside, let yourself know,” one officer said. Off-camera, a man can be heard saying “they are sleeping”. The officer repeated, “Come out. Come out now.”
An officer then followed a police dog to Lewis’ room and opened the door. Officers opened fire immediately after the lights illuminated Lewis leaning on his mattress. If Lewis wriggled and moaned on the bed, he was told to “crawl” out of the room and stop resisting arrest. He was handcuffed to a bed and died in hospital shortly after.
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“The police shot and killed Donovan Lewis while he was in one of a person’s most vulnerable places — in bed. As the investigation unfolds, some may point out that the police attempted to execute a search warrant when the shots were fired. Lewis, as if implying that an alleged crime warrants immediate execution,” Kelly Sampson, director of racial justice at Brady, an anti-gun violence group, said in a statement.
The killing is the latest example of unarmed black Americans being shot by police. Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans, according to a 2019 study by Northwestern University. Ohio’s figure is even higher, where blacks are 4.5 times more likely to be killed by police than whites.
In December 2020, Andre Hill, 47, an unarmed black man, was shot four times by Columbus police while leaving a friend’s house. His family received a $10 million settlement from the city. Last year, a police officer shot and killed Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old black man, outside her home. After investigation, the officer has no criminal record.
Lewis’ killing was the third police shooting in the city in the past week, according to the Columbus Urban League. The group called for a community forum on Saturday to discuss the incident.
“Yesterday’s shooting elicited painful, contradictory responses. We know that the execution of a felony warrant can create a highly volatile and dangerous situation. However, the body camera video is as distressing as the fact that another black man was killed,” the statement said. Organization president Stephanie Hightower said in a statement. “Regardless of the final conclusion, our community deserves an independent, thorough and transparent investigation by all appropriate entities.”