Police bodycam footage

Once again, a trigger-happy Columbus police officer shot and killed an unarmed Black man. Police bodycam footage shows at least four officers and a police dog entering 20-year old Donovan Lewis’ home in the middle of the night August 30 to execute a warrant. Within a few minutes, Officer Ricky Anderson executed Lewis instead. This time it was one out of three police shootings in Columbus in eight days, although the other two victims survived.

“Columbus Police didn’t even attempt to de-escalate or negotiate with Donovan Lewis. Yet another case of an innocent person killed as the result of trigger-happy training. These things are constantly happening for a reason, the mentality and poor judgment of today’s law enforcement training,” said Cynthia Brown, who’s spearheading the effort to end qualified immunity in Ohio.

Qualified immunity protects government employees from civil suits, and arguably has evolved into absolute immunity for police.

Brown, who’s also pushing for much more de-escalation training for police statewide, says her nonprofit De-Escalate Ohio and its allies are filing for their statewide ballot initiative very soon as they are on the verge of collecting the necessary signatures.

To Brown, who lost a nephew to Columbus police, the shooting of 20-year-old Donovan Lewis is just another example of the how the police won’t change until policy changes.

“The bottom line is, policy needs to change in Columbus Division of Police and statewide. History has proven warrants carried out in the middle of the night are dangerous for both the police and the communities. In building trust with people of color, Chief Bryant, needs to implement new life saving policy, immediately,” added Brown.

Another local activist – and mother of a son also killed by Columbus police – is telling Donovan Lewis’s family that they have tragically been initiated in an unfortunate community, one that’s growing by the year, if not weeks.

“It breaks my heart that yet another family has been included in this involuntary club that no one wants to be a part of or even asked for a membership,” said Adrienne Hood, who lost her son Henry Green in 2016.

She says what the Lewis family can expect now is “they will fight on every turn because there are laws that will protect and defend offices no matter how egregious or irresponsible their actions are and that is what we must focus on as a whole.”

“There aren’t any courageous judges, not one that I am aware of that wants to be courageous enough for the change,” added Hood. “I am here for them [the Lewis family] if and when they need me. I understand the shock and pain that is going on right now, their otherwise private life now thrust before the community and in this case the world.”

Dr. Hamaz Khabir, policy expert for the Ohio Coalition to End Qualified Immunity, says, “there is no one size fits all solution to ending excessive force and police brutality.”  

“But this law is tailored to provide accountability from government officials by removing qualified immunity, a policy created to shield government actors from civil liability for depriving people of their constitutional rights,” said Dr. Khabir about the Coalition’s proposed statewide citizen-driven ballot initiative.

Even though information is limited, it appears that Donovan Lewis’s young life had turbulent periods. But for marginalized young people of color in Columbus, the Columbus police have sometimes acted without mercy – as bodycam evidence proved with Donovan Lewis. And once again, the Columbus police, knowing the law, seemingly don’t fear any consequences.

“I watched the video again, I have come to the following conclusion. Cops are replacing ropes with bullets. At no time was Donovan Lewis given a chance to compromise. In fact, most men, women of Color have never ever been given the opportunity to be taken into custody. Rather one bullet to 100, is death while black,” said Brown.

On the Columbus Reddit page, perhaps one post regarding Donovan Lewis says it all:

“The dog they unleashed was better trained and had better judgement than them, because the dog doesn’t have an ego it needs to stroke and a compulsive need to be a ‘bad ass’ by committing acts of violence.”