Sometimes viral police videos are like Rorschach tests where everyone who looks at the video sees a cop using excessive force—except for other cops, who conveniently see a fellow cop put in a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation where they used the exact amount of force necessary.
Earlier this month, we reported on the viral video in which Mississippi Highway Patrol officer Hayden Falvey is seen violently handling Black man Eugene Lewis, who was handcuffed at the time Falvey appears to struggle with him and take him to the ground and then into a ditch. In the video, Lewis’ brothers, Packer and Darius Lewis, can be heard shouting at the officer who they said was “in a car jumping on” their brother.
All three brothers ended up going to jail that day and on Friday, and the state trooper was cleared of all wrongdoing, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
“A review of this incident by MBI agents and command staff produced no evidence of criminal conduct by the trooper throughout the encounter,” Mississippi Bureau of Investigations Director Lt. Col. Charles Haynes said in a statement.
From the Sentinel:
The Mississippi Department of Public Safety released on Friday 40 minutes of video of Trooper Hayden Falvey’s arrest of Eugene Lewis and his brothers Gary “Packer’’ Lewis and Derrius Lewis. It included dash cam video, along with video of a rear-facing camera pointing at the seat in the patrol car for a person under arrest. DPS officials also released audio of the encounter and synched the in-car footage with the live streamed video.
“MHSP’s internal review of this matter revealed no evidence of excessive force,” said Lt. Col. Malachi Sanders, Director of the MHSP Enforcement Division. “All evidence indicates that Trooper Falvey demonstrated exemplary patience, judgment and skill in maintaining the safety of all involved throughout what could have easily become a tragic incident.”
The official report says Falvey caught Lewis speeding, passing cars in the right lane and running a yellow light without wearing a seatbelt in what officials noted was a “rural and unpopulated” area. Lewis also allegedly was driving with a suspended license. Both men were calm at first, the report said, but that changed after Falvey said he smelled marijuana and started questioning Lewis about how high he was. Falvey handcuffed Lewis and searched his car but found nothing illegal. Meanwhile, Lewis’ brothers had pulled up to confront the officer.
“You can go now or you can go to jail for failure to comply,” Falvey tells the two brothers before telling Lewis, “They think they’re helping but they’re making things worse.”
So, according to police that’s when Lewis started struggling with the officer, refusing to get in the car and, during the struggle, he’s heard saying, “You choking me!” and “He’s beating me up, man!”
“All three Lewis men ignored repeated commands by Trooper Falvey to return to their respective vehicles (E. Lewis to the police cruiser),” DPS officials said in a news release. “All three men continuously shouted expletives at Trooper Falvey and made it clear that they had no intention of following his commands. This placed Trooper Falvey in an untenable position and created a dangerous situation for all four men.”
I’m not sure what the point is of noting that the Lewis brothers “shouted expletives” at Falvey when cops “shout expletives” at civilians (especially Black civilians) all the time. It just seems like officials were laying it on pretty thick in describing all the potential danger the officer was in.
“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,” DPS Commissioner Sean Tindell said.
I’m sure that’s how the cops see it anyway—and what they see tends to be all that matters.