Family of slain Donovan Lewis to hold press conference today in wake of Tyre Nichols' death

  • In US
  • 2023-01-31 11:15:31Z
  • By The Columbus Dispatch
Donovan Lewis
Donovan Lewis  

The family of Donovan Lewis, whom a Columbus police officer fatally shot last year, is holding a press conference Tuesday to renew her calls for justice for her son in the wake of swift actions taken by the city of Memphis charging officers with murder in the death this month of 29-year-old Tyre Nichols.

Lewis, 20, was fatally shot early Aug. 30 by Columbus K-9 officer Ricky Anderson while he and other officers were trying to arrest him on multiple felony and misdemeanor warrants at his apartment.

Lewis' mother, Rebecca Duran, and her legal team plan to hold a press conference at 11:30 a.m. to "highlight the swift response from the Memphis Police Department in terminating multiple officers involved in the deadly beating of Mr. Nichols." referring to the second-degree murder charges filed against the officers.

Five Memphis officers were suspended, fired and now face second-degree murder and other charges related to Nichols' death, and the city announced Monday that two more officers were previously suspended and three emergency medical technicians were fired for failing to perform an adequate medical assessment on Nichols. In addition, two Shelby County sheriff's deputies, who were at the beating scene were relieved of duty.

Donovan Lewis' family is represented by attorneys Rex Elliott and Ben Cooper of Cooper Elliott and Dayton-based Michael Wright of Wright & Schulte.

What led to the Columbus police shooting?

Columbus police had multiple warrants for Lewis, who was wanted on a felony charge of improper handling of a firearm, a misdemeanor probation violation and misdemeanor charges filed in connection with an Aug. 10 domestic violence and assault incident involving Lewis' girlfriend, court records show.

Police body camera video shows Lewis did not respond to officers who arrived shortly after 2 a.m. at the door of Lewis' apartment on Sullivant Avenue, and were knocking for eight to 10 minutes and identifying themselves as police.

One of two other young men in the apartment finally answered. Those two men, who have not been identified or charged, were detained in handcuffs outside the second-floor apartment at the three-story building on the 3200 block of Sullivant.

Full video: Columbus police body camera footage of Donovan Lewis shooting

Police, including a K-9 and his handler, Anderson, a 30-year veteran, went into the apartment. In bodycam video, released by Columbus police shows police warning that they will release the dog, but Anderson leashes the K-9 as he and another officer approach the closed bedroom door where Lewis is inside. Anderson pushed open the bedroom door as a sergeant with his weapon drawn yelled "Hands."

Within a second of the door opening, Anderson leans into the doorway opening and shoots Lewis, who had sat up in bed with what Police Chief Elaine Bryant said later turned out to be a vape pen in his left hand. Lewis, who was shot once in the abdomen was handcuffed, patted down and carried out of the apartment and downstairs to a grass area outside.,

After Lewis was carried from the apartment, officers rendered medical aid by applying what appears to be a trauma bandage and performing CPR. Medics, who did not immediately respond despite being told three times to go straight into the scene, arrive several minutes later and took Lewis to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, where he died at 3:19 a.m.

What does the family say?

In bodycam footage, Duran tells a sergeant that she received a call from Lewis' girlfriend, who had gotten called by police to alert her that a shooting had taken place. Duran asks to know what hospital Lewis was taken to and does not yet know that he has died.

Duran said her son is "mentally ill" and that she "knows that's always the story." She said she had "begged" prosecutors for help for her son for years.

Previous coverage: Family's lawyer Rex Elliott criticizes Columbus officer

Duran said at a previous press conference called last year by Lewis' family and their legal team outside Columbus City Hall that she had sought help from counselors, psychiatrists and others for the majority of his life because of issues she as a mother had recognized in her child.

"He was special and different and had good and bad days," Duran said. "People thought it was a discipline issue and not a mental health situation."

Read more: Demonstrators march to OSU campus in protest against fatal police shooting

Duran said her son loved music. A song his family said he created was played at one intersection as demonstrators marched through Downtown on Sept. 2, the first of three days of demonstrations.

Did Donovan Lewis have a gun?

A search warrant return filed by Columbus police in Franklin County Municipal Court last year shows what was collected as evidence from Lewis' second-floor apartment. The return warrant shows no firearm was found in the apartment.

While the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is the lead agency investigating the shooting, Columbus police obtained the search warrant on their behalf. The document requested that BCI agents be able to execute the search warrant.

The search warrant return shows that two items were collected by BCI at the apartment that morning. One item is the black vape pen that is seen on the body camera footage. The other is Anderson's spent cartridge casing that was found on the floor in the doorway to the bedroom from where the officer fired.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Mother of Donovan Lewis speaks out after Tyre Nichols death in Memphis


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