Police dashcam video shows former officer shooting unarmed motorist over a seat belt violation
The motorist, however, claimed in court that he was pulled up because he was black and that two other white motorists had passed him previously without wearing a seat belt
Police released dashcam footage of an officer shooting and wounding a motorist who attacked a fellow officer during a traffic stop. The Lawrence Police Department made the video public after there was outrage over the May 2018 shooting of 35-year-old Akira S. Lewis by rookie officer Brindley Blood, who has insisted she meant to pull out her taser rather than her gun.
According to the Lawrence Journal-World, the shooting occurred at around 5:15 pm on May 29, 2018, in the 100 block of West Sixth Street, at the north end of downtown Lawrence, with the video caught on the dashcam of officer Ian McCann, who is the one who pulled over Lewis for not wearing a seatbelt.
McCann can be seen and heard introducing himself, telling Lewis he was assigned to the seatbelt enforcement effort and that he pulled him over because he wasn't wearing his. Lewis immediately begins protesting, driving forward a few feet and causing McCann to jump away from the SUV.
After he stops, McCann walks back to the driver's window and continues speaking. Lewis, however, becomes increasingly unruly, refusing to provide his name or driver's license, curses at McCann, and repeatedly demands that McCann summon a supervisor to the scene.
McCann calmly tells Lewis that if he provides his license and insurance, he can give him the citation and let him off. He warns the 35-year-old that if he continues refusing to comply, he will be placed under arrest and taken to jail. "Go get your (expletive) supervisor, go get your (expletive) supervisor," Lewis can be heard yelling in response. "…Get the (expletive) out of my face, man, I’m telling you."
At this point, McCann calls for backup and Blood responds. The two unsuccessfully try and pull Lewis out of the car, and after a brief struggle, the 35-year-old jumps out of the vehicle at McCann, punches him, lifts him off his feet, and flings him to the pavement in front of a car in traffic. He then lands on top of the officer and punches him again.
Blood quickly runs from the other side of the SUV, draws her gun, stands over the two men tussling on the ground, and yells, "Taser Taser Taser" before firing. But it's immediately evident that she fired her gun instead of her taser, with Lewis' cries prompting her to gasp, "Oh, s**t, I shot him." McCann and Blood then handcuff Lewis and tend to his wounds as other officers who were called as backup arrived at the scene.
Lewis was subsequently charged with battery against a law enforcement officer, interference with law enforcement and driving without proof of insurance, all misdemeanors, and failure to wear a seat belt, a traffic infraction. He claimed in court he was pulled up because he was black and that McCann did not pull up two other white motorists who had passed him previously without wearing a seatbelt. McCann denied the allegations.
The Lawrence-Journal World reported that Blood was also charged with aggravated battery, a felony, for allegedly recklessly hurting Lewis with a deadly weapon in the incident. She was first placed on administrative leave but went on to resign from the department.
Her attorneys argued she was not reckless and that the charges should be dropped, something Judge Peggy Kittel at Douglas County District Court will rule on this coming week after watching the dashcam footage of the incident.