Viral video of Mississippi arrest sparks investigation

Aug 8, 2022, 2:40 PM | Updated: 3:44 pm

JACKSON, Miss (AP) — An incident involving a white Mississippi Highway Patrol officer and three Black men is under investigation after a viral video showed the officer putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch.

The video, captured Friday in McComb by a man named Packer Lewis, sparked outrage over the officer’s conduct.

The video shows one of Lewis’ brothers, Eugene Lewis, standing in the street in handcuffs as Packer Lewis and another brother, Darius Lewis, yell that they are recording the incident. Suddenly, the officer grabs Eugene Lewis by the neck and pulls him across the street, tackling him to the ground. At one point, the officer appears to use his knee to pin him down.

“That’s how George Floyd died,” Packer Lewis yelled while recording a livestream on Facebook, referring to the 2020 murder of Floyd, a Black man who was pinned under a Minneapolis police officer’s knee for more than nine minutes.

Packer Lewis said the Mississippi officer became aggressive after he told the Lewis brothers to leave the scene.

“He said y’all need to leave. It’s not y’all business. We said it’s our business because it’s our brother,” Lewis told The Associated Press on Monday.

After detaining Eugene Lewis in a police car, the officer then walked toward the other two brothers and pointed a weapon at one of them. After another officer arrived, Packer and Darius Lewis were then arrested.

Public officials said an investigation is underway. Authorities have not identified the officer involved nor said what prompted Eugene Lewis to be placed in handcuffs. Packer Lewis said his brother was pulled over for allegedly speeding and then was arrested for having an expired license.

“The Mississippi Department of Public Safety was made aware of an incident involving a Mississippi Highway Patrolman conducting an arrest on a subject in McComb, MS,” said Bailey Martin, a spokesperson for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. “This incident is being reviewed internally by the Department of Public Safety. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an inquiry.”

McComb Mayor Quordiniah Lockley urged patience as an investigation unfolds.

“I know that many of you like myself, have viewed the video of the Mississippi Highway Patrol Officer and Mr. Eugene Lewis. I am alarmed as well as disturbed over it,” Lockley said. “I ask that you allow the investigation to be completed but at the same time let your voice be heard.”

Lockley said he contacted State Representative Daryl Porter Jr. and asked him to intervene on behalf of the City of McComb since it involved Mississippi Highway Patrol, which is the state’s jurisdiction.

In a statement, Porter, Jr., a Democrat from Summit, said the commissioner of public safety told him the incident is being investigated by the Internal Affairs and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

Packer Lewis said his brothers were released from jail Friday night, but he was kept up until Sunday night because of a past charge on his criminal record. He said he is facing eight charges related to the incident, including obstruction of justice. He is still processing Friday’s events several days later.

“I was kind of shocked because I’ve seen this type of activity on TV. But I never thought I’d be hands-on with it. I never thought I’d be a part of something like this.”

The incident occurred less than a month after the firing of the police chief in Lexington, 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of McComb. The Mississippi Center For Investigative Reporting said the Lexington police chief was caught on tape using racial slurs and talking about how many people he killed in the line of duty.

Howard Henderson, the director of the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Lewis’ video displayed “bad policing 101.”

“He seems to obviously have lost control of himself, and he almost looked like he was afraid of the gentleman recording. And because of that, he overreacted in the moment,” Henderson said.

Henderson said police departments should hire more Black police officers as they bring a different perspective to the job than their white colleagues.

A 2017 Pew Research survey of police officers found that 72% of white police officers but fewer than half of all Black officers view police killings of Black people as “isolated incidents,” instead of “signs of a broader problem between.”

These disparities beget distrust, and distrust begets poor policing, Henderson said.

“Trust in the community is fundamental to successful policing. And only through police conduct are you able to improve community interactions and promote a shared responsibility for addressing crime and disorder,” Henderson said. “When that trust is broken down, you destroy the ability of a police department to be effective at doing the job society has said it needs to do.”

___

Michael Goldberg is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mikergoldberg.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
4 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
12 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
12 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
19 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
19 days ago
(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...
Sponsored Content by OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here's what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Fiesta Bowl Foundation

Celebrate 50 years of Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade magic!

Since its first production in the early 1970s, the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe has been a staple of Valley traditions, bringing family fun and excitement to downtown Phoenix.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Viral video of Mississippi arrest sparks investigation