JACKSON, Miss (AP) — The Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Friday that its internal investigation found no criminal conduct by a white Highway Patrol trooper who used physical force against a handcuffed Black man during an arrest — a confrontation caught on video by relatives of the man being arrested.
The Department of Public Safety released nearly 40 minutes of video and audio. It included video shot by cameras in the trooper’s patrol car, audio captured by the trooper and video shot by brothers of the first man arrested. Although some of the patrol car footage was silent, the department said it had synchronized the video and the audio clips.
Part of the footage shows Eugene Lewis standing in the road in handcuffs as his brother Gary, who also goes by the name “Packer” Lewis, and another brother, Derrius Lewis, yelled that they were recording the incident. Suddenly, the trooper grabbed Eugene Lewis by the neck and pulled him across the road, tackling him to the ground. At one point, the trooper appeared to use his knee to pin him down.
Investigators identified the trooper as Hayden Falvey. In the combined video and audio, Lewis can be heard telling Falvey, “I can’t breathe,” to which the trooper responded, “You’re running your mouth. You can breathe.”
Falvey put handcuffs on Lewis, saying it was a precaution as he searched Lewis’ SUV. The trooper said Lewis was not under arrest at that point and asked Lewis several questions about whether he had ever been arrested and whether any marijuana or other drugs were in the vehicle. Lewis said he had previously been arrested for selling cocaine.
During the trooper’s vehicle search, Gary and Derrius Lewis drove up in a Dodge Charger, stopped and got out of their vehicle. They identified themselves as Lewis’ brothers. After a brief exchange with Falvey, the brothers left. They soon returned to shoot cellphone video as the trooper’s physical altercation with Eugene Lewis started.
Packer Lewis said his brothers were released from jail that night, but he was kept two more days because of a past charge on his criminal record. He said he is facing nine charges related to the incident, including obstruction of justice. Eugene Lewis is also facing eight charges and Derrius Lewis is facing five charges.
“While DPS and MHSP recognize and respect the right of citizens to observe, and even record, law enforcement officers executing their duties, those rights are not without limitations,” Tindell said in the news release. “As you will see, this event is a prime example of how even a routine traffic stop can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for both citizens and law enforcement officers when subjects resist arrest and when uninvolved persons interfere.”