City officials call for peace, highlight reforms in Columbus Urban League forum
Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch
By Taijuan Moorman
September 3, 2022
In a Saturday morning town hall-style forum hosted by the Columbus Urban League, city officials addressed residents who have questions and are searching for solutions after a police shooting left one man dead on Tuesday morning.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther, Police Chief Elaine Bryant, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce, City Council member Nick Bankston and other city leaders attended the forum. The discussion was moderated by Urban League President Stephanie Hightower and Jerry Saunders, Equity Now Coalition chair and CEO of the Africentric Personal Development Shop.
Officials discussed the three police shootings that took place in an eight-day span from Aug. 22-30, including the fatal shooting of Donovan Lewis, a 20-year-old Black man shot once in his Hilltop apartment when Columbus police officers tried to arrest him there early Tuesday morning.
Officer Ricky Anderson shot Lewis around 2 a.m. Tuesday inside a bedroom of Lewis’ apartment, in the 3200 block of Sullivant Avenue. Officers went to Lewis’ apartment in an attempt to serve arrest warrants that were pending related to charges of domestic violence, assault and felony improper handling of a firearm.
Hightower said the purpose of the forum was to help the community heal and “rebuild trust,” while also informing the community about the details of the shootings, as “false information flourishes in the absence of … documented truth.”
Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant, left, and Mayor Andrew Ginther speak to news media after a town hall discussion Saturday at the Urban One Inc. studio about recent police shootings.
Columbus mayor asks community to ‘demand justice’ in a ‘peaceful way’ after Donovan Lewis shooting Ginther addressed the community as a number of protests and demonstrations are scheduled to happen over the weekend.
“It’s really important for us to think about and lift up this family,” Ginther said. “I will ask the community to … help us build a culture of trust between law enforcement and the community. Continue to demand justice, and do so in a peaceful way.”
Ginther pointed to legislative moves in recent years, including the passage of Andre’s Law, an ordinance requiring officers to render medical aid, a $19 million investment into body cameras in 2021, the Ohio Bureau of Investigation’s handling of police shootings during which someone is injured or killed and the introduction of a civilian review board and new inspector general as commitments to reform demanded by the community.
“They took to the streets, and they organized, and they forced us to step up,” Ginther said.
Hightower mentioned how the community has reacted to the body camera footage released after the shooting, including questions about Lewis being told to crawl out and “stop resisting” after being shot. Ginther said if a current police policy is found to not be best practice during the course of the state’s investigation into Lewis’ shooting, he and Bryant will change it.
Bryant said the Department of Justice is also reviewing the Columbus Police Department’s policies and operations and has recently visited Columbus to train sergeants.
“When it comes to certain things … that may not be a policy violation, it may not be out of policy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was something that should occur,” said Bryant.
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, speaks during a radio broadcast of a town hall discussion Saturday morning at the Urban One Inc. studio in Columbus about recent police shootings.
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, vows action on federal level
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Columbus, offered assistance on a federal level regarding police reform.
“We need federal legislation to come down to the states, to the cities, to insist that we get … more things on the record to weed out bad police officers,” Beatty said.
“This is bad what has happened, but we are bigger than this. And at the end of the day, it needs to be about those who have died,” she said. “They deserve that. No matter what was in their background, justice must prevail.”
What happens next in the investigation?
The Ohio Bureau of Investigation is handling the investigation into the fatal shooting of Lewis, as is Columbus policy on any police shooting in the city in which someone is injured or killed.
The state’s investigation is likely to take several months to complete. Once finished, it will be presented to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office for possible indictment.
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