(NEW YORK) — The mother of Donovan Lewis, a Black man fatally shot by Columbus, Ohio police, spoke exclusively with ABC News’ Linsey Davis in her first interview since her son’s death — telling Davis she found out about her son’s death on the internet.
“I made it to the scene while they were still in the early stages, and they would not give me any information at all,” Rebecca Duran said Wednesday.
Confused on what was transpiring at the shooting scene, Duran said she still knew something was wrong with her son and just wanted to get answers.
“The news was releasing information on the internet before I could get it,” Duran said. “I was on the scene and I needed to see what actually happened.
Lewis, 20, and an expecting father, was shot and killed by Columbus Police officer Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the Columbus Police Department, last Tuesday. Police said they had arrived at Lewis’ apartment located in the Columbus, Ohio, Hilltop neighborhood around 2 a.m. to arrest him on three separate charges — improper handling of a firearm in a vehicle, assault and a domestic violence charge stemming from his girlfriend’s call to police in August.
Body camera footage has since been released of Lewis while he was in bed and Anderson is currently on paid administrative leave, according to the Columbus Police Department.
Duran says her son was mishandled in authority’s hands, calling their actions “a delay of care” and claiming they treated him like “an animal.”
“There was no attempt to preserve his life, frisking him, handcuffed, flipping them around on the bed. I work in health care,” Duran said.
Duran also says she hasn’t seen the full encounter of police and her son from the body cam video released hours following Lewis’ death.
“I have seen snippets,” Duran said. “I don’t have to see the worst treatment of him.”
Duran remembers her son to be a loving boy with a big heart, always putting others before him.
“He loved life. He had a zest for life. He loved people. He had the biggest heart,” Duran said.
“The people that have reached out to me, teachers, coaches, a host of people throughout his life, his friends all talk about his awesome sense of humor, his awesome smile….You know, how much he cared about those around him. And even when he had nothing, he wanted others to succeed,” she added.
Donovan’s death like others sparked outrage and protests in the Buckeye state’s capital. The protests for Lewis are just one of many chain reactions of police shootings in the city.
“There has to be real change and nothing’s different,” Duran said.
“There’s other cases here in Columbus; Oh, very, very, very similar to Donovan’s…but, nothing’s changed,” she added.
Duran, alongside her attorney Rex Elliott, who comforted her during the interview at times as she began to cry, say they plan to file a civil rights violation lawsuit against Anderson and the city of Columbus. Elliott claimed the excessive use of deadly force “wasn’t called for.”
Mark Collins, the attorney representing Anderson, previously said in a statement obtained by ABC News that he wanted a “thorough investigation.”
Columbus’ Inspector General Jacqueline Hendricks is now set to open a probe in Lewis’ case and as a result Duran says she wants to see Anderson fired and in jail.
“He should never be able to perform any type of duties as an officer anywhere in the world,” Duran said.
Duran and Elliott both believe Lewis’ race and color of skin played a role in his death.
“I don’t know how you can’t reach any other conclusion,” Elliott said. “He had multiple white police officers bearing down on a young, unarmed black kid in a community they didn’t understand. And that boy had to be petrified as he was rising up out of bed and thinking about all the other incidents that have occurred in this country.”
Lewis will be laid to rest Saturday at noon and his funeral will be held at Christian Valley Baptist Church in Ohio.
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