To a crowd of more than 150 demonstrators gathered Friday outside the Columbus Division of Police headquarters Downtown, Donovan Lewis' parents publicly spoke for the first time about their 20-year-old son who died Tuesday after a Columbus police officer shot him.
"He loved music," said Lewis' mother, Rebecca "Becca" Duran, through tears. "He loved to sing. He loved sports. He wanted to be loved and he loved people unconditionally. He had so many friends from so many different walks of life."
"He was so sweet and so kind, even when someone disrespected him and there was a situation," said Daryl Lewis, Donovan's father. "He was so forgiving he would forget about it and still come to you and show you love."
Lewis died early Tuesday morning after Columbus police officer Ricky Anderson fired a single gunshot into the 20-year-old's bedroom almost immediately after opening the bedroom door. Anderson, a K-9 handler and 30-year veteran who's on paid leave per division policy, and several other officers were trying to arrest Lewis on multiple warrants. Court records show Lewis was wanted on a felony charge of improper handling of a firearm, a misdemeanor probation violation and misdemeanor charges of domestic violence and assault involving his pregnant girlfriend.
Rex Elliott, an attorney representing Lewis' family, also spoke on the steps of the police division's Marconi Boulevard headquarters Friday evening. He said police treated Lewis "like a piece of meat" after he was shot in the abdomen while lying in bed.
"That cannot happen again, ever," Elliott said.
Lewis, who was moaning from the gunshot wound, was handcuffed after being shot. Officers also pulled his pants down to search him.
They then carried Lewis outside his apartment and performed chest compressions before paramedics arrived, body camera footage shows. Lewis later died at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center.
A little after 7 p.m. Friday, the crowd left police headquarters and began marching through Downtown. Cyclists rode ahead and used their bicycles as barriers to block traffic at intersections so the demonstrators could continue marching.
Police cruisers also could be seen a block or two ahead, preemptively rerouting traffic away from the marchers.
The demonstrators paused in the middle of North Third and East Long streets as a portable speaker played what Lewis' family said was music Donovan created. Multiple people brushed tears from their eyes.
The peaceful march ended just before 8:30 p.m. on West Gay Street between Columbus City Hall and police headquarters.
The protest was one of three planned this weekend by J.U.S.T., which stands for Justice, Unity & Social Transformation. According to its Facebook page, the Columbus social justice group celebrated its two-year anniversary on Aug. 22.
In the aftermath of Lewis' death, J.U.S.T. organizers are demanding the immediate firing and arrest of Anderson; the elimination of overnight warrants; a meeting between Lewis' family and Police Chief Elaine Bryant, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Director of Public Safety Robert Clark; an independent investigation separate from the one the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation is conducting; the erasure of qualified immunity for police; more city funding for mental health and social services and less for public safety; and no K-9 teams unless warrants for drug-related offenses are being served.
The investigation by Ohio BCI, an arm of the state Attorney General's Office, is expected to take several months. Once complete, findings will be given to the Franklin County Prosecutor's Office, which would present the case to a county grand jury to consider whether there should be any criminal charges.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Donovan Lewis' family speaks ahead of protest march through Downtown