MDPS releases results of investigation of MHP trooper's actions involving a handcuffed man
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Friday that dashcam video clears a trooper of wrongdoing in an incident in McComb.
Eugene Lewis, of McComb, told 16 WAPT News that he was assaulted by the trooper while he was handcuffed. Lewis' brother shot the viral Facebook Live video of the Aug. 5 incident. Lewis said he believes he would be dead if his brother hadn't documented what was happening.
The video appears to show the trooper grabbing Lewis, who was cuffed behind his back, and throwing him to the ground. Both men ended up in a grassy ditch, which is when Lewis said the trooper put his knee into his back.
"He stuck his knee in my side. That's where I got big, ole bruises over here. I was telling him, 'Man, get out of my side. I can't breathe, man, stop,'" Lewis said.
MDPS released the results of the investigation into the incident, along with dashcam video, on Friday. Tap here for the full statement.
Officials said Trooper Hayden Falvey tried to stop Lewis on Delaware Avenue after he was "traveling at a high rate of speed, passing vehicles on the right, not wearing a seat belt and speeding up to travel through an intersection after the light turned from green to yellow."
Falvey pursued Lewis until he stopped on a rural area of Schmidt Road. MDPS said Falvey smelled "a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle," and noticed that Lewis' eyes were bloodshot and glassy.
MDPS said the trooper determined that Lewis' driver's license had been suspended and he was driving without liability insurance.
"E. Lewis admitted to Trooper Falvey that there may be a burnt marijuana cigarette, or 'roach,' in his vehicle. He also admitted that he had smoked marijuana about 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to the traffic stop," according to a release from MDPS.
Lewis said the trooper put him in handcuffs while he searched his car and later told him he was being arrested for driving while under the influence.
As Falvey was searching the vehicle, Lewis' brothers pulled up to the scene, according to MDPS officials. Falvey ordered them to return to their vehicles and leave the scene "because he had no backup and was in an unpopulated area, MDPS said. They protested, but did leave.
Falvey tried to put Lewis into the front passenger seat of his MHP cruiser, but said Lewis "became belligerent and physically resisted." The trooper called for assistance and continued to try to place Lewis, who MDPS said was still resisting, into the cruiser and buckle him in when Lewis' brothers returned to the scene.
"Believing that he had buckled E. Lewis into the front seat of his cruiser, Trooper Falvey stepped to the back of the cruiser and again directed (Lewis' brothers) to return to the vehicle and leave the scene," MDPS said in the release. "Unfortunately, E. Lewis had not been buckled in and he immediately exited the vehicle and began shouting at Trooper Falvey."
Lewis said he got out of the cruiser because he was afraid of what the trooper might do.
"I got out of the car because he was beating me. Ain't no way I could have stayed in the car if I was able to get out of that car and let him come back and beat me some more, because that's what he was going to do," Lewis said.
Lewis' brother, Gary Lewis, who was recording the video, said the trooper drew his service revolver and pulled out a stun gun threatening that he would go to jail if they didn't leave the area.
"Well, take me to jail. I’m not about to let you treat my brother like they treated George Floyd. If it takes you shooting me, or whatever it takes, I’m not leaving my brother," Gary Lewis said.
MDPS officials said all three men "continuously shouted expletives" at the trooper and did not follow his commands.
"This placed Trooper Falvey in an untenable position and created a dangerous situation for all four men," MDPS said in the release. "Nevertheless, Trooper Falvey never struck any of the Lewis men, or used any force beyond the necessary restraining techniques used upon E. Lewis."
Another driver approached the scene and according to MDPS, Falvey asked him to watch the Lewis brothers while he worked to put Eugene Lewis back in the cruiser.
"E. Lewis physically resisted these efforts, resulting in both E. Lewis and Trooper Falvey falling to the ground. Trooper Falvey immediately worked to secure E. Lewis with his knees and legs so that Falvey would have access to the tools on his belt in case (the Lewis brothers) approached him," MDPS officials said. "Trooper Falvey helped E. Lewis to his feet and brought him back to the passenger side, front seat of the cruiser."
Falvey was eventually able to get Eugene Lewis into the cruiser and buckle him in. Another trooper arrived at the scene shortly thereafter.
"A review of this incident by MBI agents and command staff produced no evidence of criminal conduct by the trooper throughout the encounter," said Lt. Col. Charles Haynes, director of MBI, in a statement.