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After a Black man is fatally shot in bed by officers, Ohio police change policy on late-night warrants

Donovan Lewis, 20, was killed in Columbus during an on-duty shooting Aug. 30.
The girlfriend of Donovan Lewis holds a picture of him
The girlfriend of Donovan Lewis holds his picture during a rally at the Columbus Division of Police headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 2.Gaelen Morse / Getty Images

Less than two weeks after an officer in Ohio fatally shot a Black man who was in bed while executing an arrest warrant, the Columbus police chief on Thursday issued a policy change about warrants served late at night.

Chief Elaine Bryant is directing the Columbus Division of Police to seek high-level approval for some warrants served between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., according to a memo sent to all sworn personnel.

Donovan Lewis, 20, was fatally shot about 2:30 a.m. Aug. 30 while police executed a felony arrest warrant for alleged improper handling of a firearm, domestic violence and assault.

“Effective immediately and until revised or rescinded by me, no pre-planned arrest warrants shall be served at private residences for all misdemeanor offenses (including domestic violence) and non-violent felony offenses between the hours of 11:00 PM and 6:00 AM without the prior approval of a lieutenant or above," the memo said.

The memo added: “Pre-planned means the sole reason you have decided to go to the address is to serve an arrest warrant. This policy does not apply to tactical units, for example, SWAT, In/Tac, and task force personnel.”

The memo was obtained by NBC affiliate in Columbus WCMH and shared with NBC News. When asked for the memo Friday, a city spokesperson said to file a record’s request.

Body camera video of the Aug. 30 incident shows an officer fatally shooting Lewis within moments of encountering him. Lewis appears to sit up in bed and raise a hand in the moments before he is shot.

Bryant told reporters in August that Officer Ricky Anderson fired his gun when Lewis appeared to raise a hand with something in it.

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 paid leave, which is protocol for officers who shoot their weapons on duty, police said.

Earlier this month, Attorney Rex Elliott, who is representing Lewis’ family, urged Columbus police to reconsider when they serve warrants.

“First of all, I’d like to know why in the world they’re executing warrants at 2 o’clock in the morning?” he said. “The explanation by Chief Ryan, ‘Well, we do that because we have to be sure that they’re at home,’ is nonsense. The reality is that felony warrants are executed every day in daylight hours. There was absolutely no reason for this to have been served in the middle of the night like it was.”

Elliott also said Lewis was treated like an animal, according to body camera footage of the shooting and its aftermath. He said police should have never moved Lewis after he was shot because they could have made his wound worse.

“The video shows a sickening reaction to me,” he said. “The video looks like they treated Donovan like an animal.” “Instead, they grabbed him. There was no gun. They handcuffed him. They told him to crawl out of bed. They dragged him onto the floor. It was just terrible,” Elliott said.

Rebecca Duran, Lewis’ mother, told ABC News on Wednesday, “I made it to the scene while they were still in the early stages, and they would not give me any information at all.”

She added, "The news was releasing information on the internet before I could get it. I was on the scene and I needed to see what actually happened."

Body camera footage released to NBC News this week shows Duran on the street after the shooting, crying and waiting behind police tape as she’s trying to figure out if her son was killed.

An officer, who said he’s trying to be empathetic, said detectives must release information to her.

At one point in the video, Duran said, “What I just want to know is what hospital he’s at? What if he’s still alive and I can see him?” she asks through tears.

Duran told ABC News her son, a father-to-be, was a caring and joyful person.

“He loved life. He had a zest for life. He loved people. He had the biggest heart,” she said.

Lewis’ death occurred less than two years after a Columbus police officer lost his job days after he fatally shot a Black man. In May 2021, the city of Columbus reached a $10 million settlement with Andre Hill’s family over that deadly shooting.

It also comes after the fatal police shooting of Ma’Khia Bryant, 16, who was killed by a Columbus police officer in April 2021. The officer who shot the teenager, Nicholas Reardon, was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, prosecutors announced in March.

That same month Bryant was killed, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Attorney Zach Klein requested a review of the Columbus Division of Police. In September 2021, the Department of Justice agreed to review the practices of the city’s police department.