COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A former K-9 officer has been indicted in Ohio on murder charges in the death of a Black man who was lying on his bed when he was shot by police trying to serve a warrant.
Former Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson was also charged Friday with reckless homicide by a county grand jury in the death last year of 20-year-old Donovan Lewis.
Attorney Rex Elliott, who represents Lewis’ family, said at a news conference Friday that Anderson had racked up more than 60 complaints of excessive force during his 30-year career with the Columbus Police Department.
“He never should have been in the position to begin with to have the opportunity to take a young life like he did on Aug. 30, 2022,” Elliott said.
Elliott also questioned why it took nearly a year to bring charges against Anderson, who is white. Bodycam footage appears to show that the shooting happened within a second of Anderson opening the door to a bedroom where Lewis was sleeping.
“Officer Ricky Anderson broke the law when he shot and killed an unarmed Donovan Lewis as he laid in his bed. CPD (Columbus Police Department) bodycam video showed this clearly and nothing has changed in almost a year,” Elliott said separately in a statement.
Elliott had earlier questioned why the city had not addressed the broader issue of white officers killing Black civilians. The U.S. Justice Department agreed in 2021 to review Columbus police department practices after a series of fatal police shootings of Black people — including the April 2021 killing of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant — and the city’s response to 2020 racial injustice protests.
Anderson’s defense lawyer, Mark C. Collins, said the grand jury did not have the full picture of the facts, but only a “dog-and-pony show … controlled by the special prosecutors.”
“This case is not about if Ricky Anderson made the decision to use deadly force, but why he made the decision to use deadly force. As we progress through litigation, the evidence will show that it was because he was justified in doing so,” Collins said Friday in a statement.
He did not immediately return a later call asking about the excessive force allegations.
Elliott had earlier criticized the speed of the shooting and suggestions by the police chief that Lewis had something in his hand when he was shot. No weapon was found.
“There is absolutely no way in the timeframe between when the door was opened and the gun was fired that Officer Anderson perceived a potential gun in his hand, got through to his brain, and then reacted by shooting his weapon,” Elliott said.
Columbus police say officers had gone to the apartment around 2 a.m. to arrest Lewis on multiple warrants including domestic violence, assault and felony improper handling of a firearm. Police took two other men in the apartment into custody without incident. A police dog was unleashed in the apartment during the search.
The charges Friday brought both joy and sorrow to Lewis’ mother, who said it’s been a rough year.
“Bottom line is he should still be here, and I’m going to be grieving that for the rest of my life,” Rebecca Duran said.
The family, meanwhile, has a lawsuit pending against Anderson and others in the police department.