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Ohio police release bodycam video after officer fatally shoots Black man possibly holding a ‘vape pen'

Columbus Police Officer Ricky Anderson shot Donovan Lewis, 20, shortly after encountering him as the young man appeared to raise a hand with something in it. Police said a “vape pen” was later found on the bed next to him.
/ Source: TODAY

Police in Columbus, Ohio, released body camera footage on Tuesday after an officer fatally shot a 20-year-old Black man within seconds of encountering him while attempting to serve an arrest warrant earlier that day.

In the video, which was released during a news conference, an officer can be seen firing at the man, who police identified as Donovan Lewis, shortly after locating him in an apartment Tuesday morning. Lewis can be seen appearing to sit up in bed and raise a hand in the moments before he is shot.

Chief Elaine Bryant said during the news conference that Officer Ricky Anderson fired his gun when Lewis appeared to raise a hand with something in it, NBC affiliate WCMH of Columbus reported. Bryant said a device appearing to be a “vape pen” was later “found on the bed right next to him.” No weapon was found, police said.

Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the force who was assigned to the canine unit, was placed on leave as an investigation into the deadly shooting continues, police said. NBC News has reached out to Anderson and the police union for comment.

“Donovan Lewis lost his life. As a parent, you know, I sympathize and I grieve with his mother,” Bryant said. “As a community, I grieve with our community but we’re gonna allow this investigation to take place,” she said.

Officers had been attempting to serve a felony warrant at an apartment just before 2:30 a.m. when the deadly shooting unfolded, the Columbus Division of Police said in a news release Tuesday.

The body camera footage shows the moments leading up to the incident after officers arrived at the apartment. In the video, officers can be seen knocking on the apartment’s front door before a man eventually answers and is taken into custody. Another man encountered inside the entrance of the apartment was also detained, WCMH reported.

Officers can later be seen inside the apartment with a police dog, which appears to start barking at a back bedroom door. Officers advance upon the door and Anderson, gripping the dog’s collar in one hand, pushes it open with the other before firing his weapon shortly after.

Police said officers provided aid to Lewis until Columbus Fire medics arrived on scene and transported him to a hospital.

Lewis was pronounced dead at the hospital at 3:19 a.m., police said, within an hour of the incident unfolding.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has opened an investigation into the police shooting, police said. The bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.

Lewis’ death comes less than two years after a Columbus police officer lost his job days after fatally shooting a Black man who was found to have been unarmed.

In May of last year, the City of Columbus reached a $10 million settlement with Andre Hill’s family over the deadly shooting.

It also comes after the fatal police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, who was killed by a Columbus police officer in April of last year.

In that case, officer Nicholas Reardon was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing after fatally shooting Bryant, who was Black, as she swung a knife at a young woman after pushing the woman to the ground. Police had been responding to a 911 call made from Bryant’s foster home about a group of girls threatening to stab members of the household when the incident unfolded.

In September, the Department of Justice agreed to review the practices of the Columbus police department following a request from Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein in April.

The request was made in the wake of a number of shootings by police officers in the city, including those resulting in the deaths of Hill and Bryant.

Announcing the review in September, Ginther said the DOJ’s involvement was “not about one particular officer, policy or incident.”

“Rather, this is about reforming the entire institution of policing in Columbus,” he said. The DOJ did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News.