An attorney for Rick Anderson—a Columbus, Ohio, police officer who shot and killed a Black man, Donovan Lewis within moments of opening Lewis’ bedroom door and finding him on his bed with a vape pen while he was executing an arrest warrant—is laying out his defense for his client and, in all honesty, it reads like a textbook on how nothing is ever a cop’s fault.
“He was devastated that he was placed in a situation where he had to use lethal force,” attorney Mark Collins told ABC 6. “As a parent himself, his heart goes out to the Lewis family.”
Notice the language Collins chose. Anderson didn’t shoot an unarmed man within seconds of opening a door—he was “placed in a situation” where he had to shoot an unarmed man within seconds of opening a door. The cop didn’t shoot, he was caused to shoot because of the victim’s actions—or inaction—or non-compliance—or failure to perfectly comply within a timely manner set by cops whose supposed fear virtually always justifies deadly force in the eyes of other cops and their lawyers, apparently.
Anyway, Collins went on to explain why it’s understandable that a trained police officer couldn’t distinguish a vape pen from a firearm.
“The human eye captures things differently than a body camera,” Colins said. “There are different angles and stuff like that. But tactically everything that was done prior is sound. Everything that was done was by his training. Sometimes they are in a situation where they have to make a split-second decision. And in this situation, Anderson believed what he saw was a gun, and so that is why he fired because he believed his life was in danger. Of course, he was mistaken, it was not a gun. But was that mistake reasonable and the Supreme Court cases and the jury instructions give deference to police officers in these type of situations because all across America everyday officers are in those situations.”
One can only wonder if Collins realizes he’s just described everything wrong with the pro-police justice system—a system that routinely lets police officers off the hook for killing unarmed people so long as they can claim they feared for their life. It’s a system that says civilians must behave perfectly to avoid getting shot while trained police officers automatically get the benefit of the doubt because their jobs are really hard and scary. Hell, Collins even went on to say that a suspect doesn’t even need to have anything in their hands for a cop to reasonably think they’re in enough danger to open fire.
“Our client definitely saw something in his hand and case law in these type of cases indicate that you don’t even need something in the hand,” Collins said. “I believe in this situation the protocols that were followed were textbook. Meaning the officers who were there initially to serve the lawful warrant did what they did. They believed someone was in there. They didn’t just go barging in. They didn’t go in a rush. They said what is our next step and tactically speaking the next step is to try to use the canine.”
The fact remains that Anderson gets to claim he thought his life was in danger when, in reality, he was the only person to kill someone that day. Maybe he was the danger.
According to ABC, Collins is also representing the ex-Columbus officer who shot and killed Andre Hill, who was literally in a garage minding his own business, and was holding his hands up, one of which was holding a cellphone with the lit up screen facing outward. Hill was not the subject of any arrest warrant but was still shot within moments of coming into the view of his killer.
One can only imagine what Collins’ justification for that clear-cut case is. What we can be sure of is—it won’t be the trigger-happy cop’s fault.