Mississippi trooper cleared in probe of chokehold video

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JACKSON, Miss – Mississippi Department of Public Safety said Friday that its internal investigation found no offense by a white Highway Patrol soldier who used force against a handcuffed Black man during an arrest – a confrontation captured on video by the man’s relatives. arrest.

One investigation begins after the video of relatives about the incident on August 5 was spread. Footage shows the soldier taking a handcuffed man to a pole and dragging him down a grassy ditch in a rural area near the southern Mississippi city of McComb.

The department and investigators from two of its divisions, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, said they had completed all necessary requirements.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Haynes, Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, said: “Review of this incident by MBI officers and commanding staff did not present evidence of criminal conduct by the soldier during the encounter. forehead”.

The Department of Public Safety has released nearly 40 minutes of video and audio. It includes video captured by the camera in the soldier’s patrol vehicle, audio recorded by the soldier, and video taken by the brothers of the first man arrested. Although some footage of the patrol vehicle was silent, the department said it synchronized video and audio tracks.

Part of the footage shows Eugene Lewis standing in the street handcuffed as his brother Gary, who also goes by the name “Packer” Lewis, and another brother, Derrius Lewis, shout that they are documenting the incident. . Suddenly, the soldier grabbed Eugene Lewis by the neck and dragged him across the street, pinning him to the ground. At one point, the soldier appeared to use his knee to pin him down.

Investigators identified the soldier as Hayden Falvey. In the combined video and audio, Lewis can be heard saying to Falvey, “I can’t breathe,” the soldier replies, “You’re opening your mouth. You can breathe.”

According to the news release, Falvey overtook Lewis for speeding and other traffic offences. It also said Falvey alleged he smelled burning marijuana from the vehicle, and Lewis’ eyes were bloodshot and glassy.

In patrol car dashboard footage and audio released Friday, Falvey can be heard saying to Eugene Lewis: “Have you smoked some weed lately?”

Lewis replied that he had done so about 40 or 50 minutes earlier.

“Okay,” Falvey said as he patted Lewis. “Not a big deal.”

Falvey handcuffed Lewis, saying it was a precaution when he searched Lewis’ SUV. The soldier said Lewis was not arrested at the time and asked Lewis several questions about whether he had ever been arrested and whether marijuana or other drugs were in the vehicle. Lewis said he had previously been arrested for selling cocaine.

During the search for the soldier’s vehicle, Gary and Derrius Lewis drove 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 quickly went back to video recording with their cell phones as the soldier’s physical conflict with Eugene Lewis began.

After Falvey put Eugene Lewis in a patrol car and fastened his seat belt, Lewis used profanity at the soldier.

“I’m glad you feel that way, sir,” Falvey replied.

Video shot by one of Eugene Lewis’s brothers shows another state trooper arriving. It also shows one of the soldiers walking towards the brothers and pointing a weapon at one of them.

Soldiers capture two of Eugene Lewis’ brothers. In the audio clip released Friday, Falvey can be heard telling the men they shouldn’t stop to record the video.

“Your brother is going to jail,” Falvey said. “Now you’re all paying for your stage.”

Packer Lewis said his brothers were released from prison that night, but he was held for two more days because of his past criminal record. He said he is facing nine charges related to the case, including obstruction of justice. Eugene Lewis is also facing eight charges and Derrius Lewis is facing five.

Tindell defended the military’s decision to arrest the brothers who videotaped the incident.

“While the DPS and MHSP recognize and respect the right of citizens to observe, and even record, law enforcement officers performing their duties, those rights are not without limitations, ‘ Tindell said in the press release. “As you will see, this event is a prime example of how even an ordinary stop can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for both residents and law enforcement officers when the protest against arrest and when unrelated people intervene.”

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