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Family of man fatally shot by a Columbus police officer files a civil complaint after his August death

<i>Courtesy Donovan Lewis Family</i><br/>Donovan Lewis was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a police officer in his apartment.
Courtesy Donovan Lewis Family
Donovan Lewis was unarmed when he was fatally shot by a police officer in his apartment.

By Amanda Watts, Sara Smart and Rebekah Riess, CNN

The family of Donovan Lewis filed a civil complaint against the officers involved in his August 2022 death, according to family attorney Rex Elliot.

Lewis, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man was fatally shot by a Columbus, Ohio, police officer serving a warrant on an apartment in the middle of the night, CNN reported.

The officer, who fired a single shot, was Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran with the Columbus Division of Police assigned to the K9 unit, according to a police statement at the time.

The Columbus Police Chief said Anderson was placed on leave while the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducts its investigation.

The Thursday lawsuit argues multiple body cameras show Lewis “never extended or raised his arm as if holding a weapon.”

“Moreover, it took less than one second for Anderson to unholster his weapon, acquire a sight picture, and fire his weapon,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit argues Lewis “did not present any threat to any of the officers,” and the officer “could not have perceived any potential threat” when he decided to discharge his weapon.

“Anderson recklessly chose to fire a single shot into the bedroom, mortally wounding Donovan. Anderson acted recklessly and wantonly when he made that choice over the options he ignored,” the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit offers six other “nonlethal” potential options Anderson could have allegedly taken, including deploying his Taser or the K9.

“It has been now 170 days since Donovan Lewis was shot — fatally shot in his apartment as he was getting out of bed unarmed, complying with police commands,” family attorney Rex Elliot said Thursday during a news conference. “170 days and we sit here today with Ricky Anderson still being paid (on administrative leave) … and no criminal indictment.”

Elliot said they have been patient long enough. “We aren’t talking about a situation where we have conflicting eyewitness testimony. We have a video that shows that this police officer fired his weapon less than a second after the door opened. That is about as reckless as a police officer can get.”

“We felt that it was very important to not wait any longer and start the process. We have filed our complaint in state court against the police officers,” he added.

The Columbus Police Department told CNN they are unable to comment on pending litigation. CNN has reached out to Ricky Anderson’s attorney for comment.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigations has completed its review of the shooting, Columbus City Attorney’s office told CNN.

“While BCI completed their investigation into the facts of this incident, we have not yet seen the contents of that report because it is currently at the County Prosecutor’s Office awaiting grand jury presentation,” the statement said. “We have just received a copy of the lawsuit this morning, but are still reviewing it and have no further comment at this time.”

The swift action in the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols in Memphis is a precedent for other cities to move quickly, Elliot said in the news conference.

Elliot added they are hoping to “come to the table” and talk with the City of Columbus, which is not named in the civil lawsuit, about comprehensive police reform.

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CNN’s Jennifer Feldman contributed to this story.

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