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 on Aug. 31, one day after a Columbus police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Donovan Lewis while serving an arrest warrant. Lewis, a Black man, was shot while unarmed and sitting in his bed.
“I resigned immediately following the shooting of Mr. Donovan Lewis,” Thomas said in an emailed statement. “I no longer feel hopeful in the work of the board to bring forth a 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 members of the CPRB are not conducting interviews.”
The day Lewis was killed, Thomas tweeted “L-O-L” in response to a tweet that asked, “What happened to all the racism committees from Summer 2020? Where’s the measurables? What ‘progress’ [has] been made?!”
The next day, Thomas resigned.
His departure was announced during the board’s meeting on Sept. 6. In the time from the board’s formation to that meeting, it 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 CPD. Thirty cases have been opened into investigations for either misconduct (27) or excessive use of force (three).
Thomas, a program coordinator with the ASPIRE Medical Research Program at Ohio State University, was one of 11 members on the board, which was created in November 2020 “to provide civilian oversight of police.” The board reviews complaints of police misconduct and decides whether an independent investigation should be initiated or offers recommendations for discipline.
It works with the Office of the Inspector General for Police, which can conduct independent investigations and compel evidence and testimony from sworn members of the Division of Police.
The board is accepting applications to fill the vacancy left by Thomas. To apply, visit the city’s website.
Anna Hoffman of NBC4 contributed to this story