Ohio Police Oversight Member Resigns After Donovan Lewis Shooting
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The city’s civilian police review board has received its first resignation.
Aaron Thomas, who was added to the board in April 2021, resigned Aug. 31, a day after a Columbus police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Donovan Lewis while he was serving a term. stop. Lewis, a black man, was shot while unarmed and sitting up in bed.
“I resigned immediately following the murder of Mr. Donovan Lewis,” Thomas said in an emailed statement. “I no longer have faith in the council’s work to bring about change in our community that keeps our fellow citizens alive.”
The chair of the Civilian Police Review Board, former city attorney and judge Janet Jackson, did not respond to NBC4’s request for comment. On her behalf, Gayle Saunders of the Saunders PR Group, replied, “Ms. Jackson and CPRB members do not conduct interviews.
On the day Lewis was killed, Thomas tweeted “LOL” in response to a tweet that asked, “What happened to all the anti-racism committees in the summer of 2020? Where are the measurables? What “progress” [has] was done?!”
The next day, Thomas resigned.
His departure was announced at the September 6 board meeting. Between the formation of the board and that meeting, he had accumulated 88 complaints about Columbus police officers. Inspector General Jacqueline Hendricks said 58 were closed for not having enough evidence or not having to do with the CPD. Thirty cases were investigated for misconduct (27) or excessive use of force (three).
Thomas, program coordinator for Ohio State University’s ASPIRE medical research program, was one of 11 members of the board, which was created in November 2020 “to provide civilian oversight of the police.” The council reviews complaints of police misconduct and decides whether an independent investigation should be opened or makes disciplinary recommendations.
It works with the Office of the Inspector General of Police, which can conduct independent investigations and require evidence and testimony from sworn members of the Police Division.
The board is accepting applications to fill the position vacated by Thomas. To apply, go to the city’s website.
NBC4’s Anna Hoffman contributed to this story