Family files wrongful death lawsuit against Columbus police officer who shot Donovan Lewis

Donovan Lewis was shot while unarmed in his bed last August.

February 16, 2023, 5:07 PM

The family of a 20-year-old man who was fatally shot by Columbus police is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the officer who shot him.

According to the complaint, Donovan Lewis, an expecting father, was unarmed and in his bed when he was shot last August after officers arrived at his home to serve a warrant for his arrest.

Officers came to his residence to arrest him on three separate charges: domestic violence, assault and improper handling of a firearm.

Body camera footage was released of the encounter last September and Columbus Police officer Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department, appears to open fire almost immediately after police open the bedroom door to where Lewis was sleeping. He later died at a hospital.

PHOTO: The girlfriend of Donovan Lewis holds a picture of him during a rally at the Columbus Division of Police Headquarters, Sept. 2, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio.
The girlfriend of Donovan Lewis holds a picture of him during a rally at the Columbus Division of Police Headquarters, Sept. 2, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio.
Gaelen Morse/Getty Images

A total of five officers are listed in the official complaint that was announced Thursday, including Anderson– Chance Knox, Harry Dorsey, Jack Randall and Justin Dodrill– all involved in the 2:30 am raid of the Hilltop neighborhood apartment in Ohio.

"This senseless death was completely preventable," the complaint read.

The family held a press conference Thursday morning where family attorney Rex Elliott and Lewis' mother, Rebecca Duran, spoke.

According to the complaint, Anderson has had a total of 58 complaints against him over the years, including use of force complaints, and has also been reprimanded for sexual harassment while on the job.

Anderson is on paid administrative leave, according to previous reports from the Columbus Police Department, and is still employed.

Mark Collins, the attorney representing Anderson, previously called for a “thorough investigation."

"When we analyze police-involved shootings, we must look to the totality of the circumstances, and we are expressly forbidden from using 20/20 hindsight, because unlike all of us, officers are not afforded the luxury of armchair reflection when they are faced with rapidly evolving, volatile encounters in dangerous situations," Collins said in a statement last September.

Elliott criticized that Anderson was still on the "taxpayer's dime" during the press conference.

"He has, for 170 days after he killed a young man, has been on the payroll. … We continue to demand that Ricky Anderson be terminated by the city immediately," Elliott said.

It has been nearly 70 days since the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation completed its review of the case, according to Elliott, and he urged the submission of this case to the grand jury.

Sgt. David Scarpitti, public information officer for the Columbus Division of Police, told ABC News earlier this month that BCI will forward the investigation to the Franklin County Prosecutor, who will present the evidence to a grand jury when the investigation is complete.

He continued with information that the coroner's office ruled the Aug. 30, 2022, death as a homicide.

"It's been my worst nightmare," Duran said about her son's case. "It's also been extremely frustrating with the amount of information that's available. The fact that any governmental agency, any courts, judges, anything, has been continually pushed off and delayed and delayed. That allows more violence to occur, and they're not taking it seriously."

The 21-page complaint does not include the City of Columbus because the family and Elliott believe the city "needs to be sued in federal court."

The document also includes images from the police body camera footage.

Since her son's funeral, Duran mentioned that Mayor Andrew Ginther has not reached out to her.

"I've left messages. I was at a conference just this month that he was present at. He did not speak to me. He has not reached out to me," Duran said.

During the conference, Duran suggested bans on most late-night warrants, quicker accountability in police and mental health evaluations for officers.

The lawsuit comes just two weeks after Duran renewed calls for Anderson to be terminated and criminally charged.

Related Topics