City Council Member Questions Police Investigation Procedures

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Almost two years after Dennis Lewis was shot to death during a home invasion, his twin brother has been cleared of the murder and released from the Franklin County Jail. The charges against Derris Lewis were dropped after investigators retested the so-called “bloody palm print” – and determined it was not actually in blood.

In a letter to Public Safety Director Mitchell Brown, Councilwoman Charleta Tavares requests a briefing from police and safety officials to explain what went wrong with the investigation.

“Whether it’s simply miscommunication and a procedural issue, whether there’s some tools or resources that our law enforcement community needs,” says Tavares.

In her letter, Tavares says she finds it “alarming” the family had to hire outside investigators to re-test the evidence that eventually cleared Derris Lewis. She says police need to make sure this doesn’t happen again:

“We want to make sure that we protect the integrity of investigations in our community, we want to protect the safety of our residents and we want to protect the rights of innocent individuals,” says Tavares.

Tavares says the apparent mishandling of evidence and Derris Lewis’ subsequent imprisonment have caused a lot of controversy.

“People have been asking, How could this happen?’ And that’s why we have the questions,” says Tavares.

Tavares says since sending the letter, her office HAS been in contact with the Public Safety Director’s office, though a meeting has not yet been scheduled.

Derris Lewis — who appeared on WOSU’s Open Line — says the police need to be held accountable:

“I feel that there should be jobs lost. That’s what I feel. This is a terrible situation,” says Lewis.

Columbus police report they are in the process of conducting an internal investigation, but were not immediately available for comment.