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Family of Donovan Lewis calling for BCI to wrap up investigation and pass it to prosecutors

Donovan Lewis
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Donovan Lewis was shot by a Columbus Police officer on Tuesday, August 30, 2022.

A rally marking 30 days since Donovan Lewis was shot and killed by Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson was planned Friday at the Ohio State House, where Lewis’ family and activists are calling for Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to swiftly tie up their investigation and pass it off to prosecutors and a grand jury.

The family’s attorney, Rex Elliott, said they picked that location because it is at the center of the city, and it is going to take the attention of the entire city to create the justice and accountability Lewis’ family is after.

Elliott said the family has tried to be patient.

“The city asked the family for patience the day of and the day after Donovan was killed in cold blood in his apartment room,” he said. “The family has patiently sat by for the last 30 days without any information about the investigation.”

Now, Elliot says, they want to see action. Lewis’ death was ruled a homicide and the body camera footage from the officers at the Sullivant Avenue apartment provides plenty of evidence.

“Donovan was shot with his arms at his side with a police officer that fired his weapon less than a second after opening the door,” Elliott said. "So we're quite, you know, miffed at how this investigation is not wrapping up. And officer Anderson is not being arrested, cuffed charged and placed in the criminal justice system as opposed to being home on a paid vacation."

Elliott questions why there hasn’t been any movement on the case.

"The reality is, if this were a situation where we didn't know what happened, that we needed to interview eyewitnesses and there was important information to gather, that'd be a different story. But both in Andre Hill's case, and especially in Donovan Lewis's case, we all know what happened. The question I have is, whether this delay is, is being done so that the city can find a way to sidestep responsibility for what happened here."

Adam Coy, the former Columbus police officer that killed Hill, was fired within a week of the shooting and indicted about six weeks following the December 2020 shooting. Anderson is on paid leave.

The Department of Public Safety has declined to answer questions about why Coy was fired so quickly following the Hill shooting but said the office won’t consider disciplining or terminating Anderson until criminal proceedings are over and independent reviews from the Office of the Inspector General and Police Civilian Review Board are completed.

The police review board voted in their September meeting to investigate the shooting of Lewis.

Elliott said the family also wants to see police reform, including better training and safer strategies for carrying out warrants.

“We are on a mission for Donovan to make sure that this broken system is fixed. So nobody else loses their life,” he said.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.