Police reports obtained by the Roundup contradict a man’s claim that officers used excessive force when they arrested him late last year.
Brandon Lee Lewis, 23, filed a lawsuit in July that states three officers accosted him in front of his apartment on Oct. 30, punched him in the face and slammed his head into a patrol vehicle’s hood. The complaint states that Lewis did nothing to provoke the attack.
Reports from officers Jesse Davies Lorenzo Ortiz and Justin Deaton, however, challenge these claims.
Lewis faces several charges from the incident including aggravated assault on a police officer, criminal damage, resisting arrest and DUI. Toxicology results from a blood test show Lewis had marijuana in his system and a blood alcohol content of .147, almost twice the legal limit of .08, according to police reports.
The officers in their reports, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, all state that Lewis grew combative during a routine alcohol impairment test. He reportedly cursed officers and refused to follow instructions.
When Lewis reportedly refused to take his hand out of his pocket, officers went to arrest him. That is when things got physical.
The officers all agree they used force, but only because Lewis tried to punch and kick them.
One of Lewis’ roommates reportedly recorded the incident with a cell phone.
Lewis’ mother, Margaret, told the Roundup that audio from that recoding is “very gut-wrenching and hard for a mother to listen to.”
She says the video shows officers hitting Lewis as he regains consciousness.
“It makes me sick!” she said in a fax.
A neighbor who thought she heard an accident initially called police to an apartment complex off West Frontier Street.
Lewis had driven his red Toyota pickup over a wall.
Lewis initially told Davies he had inadvertently hit the gas pedal and went up the retaining wall, according to the police report. When Davies questioned him again, Lewis said he veered off the road and over the wall to avoid an oncoming car.
As Davies continued to talk with Lewis, he noticed an odor of alcohol on his breath, according to a police report.
Lewis told Davies he had drank one beer earlier in the evening.
When Davies started a field sobriety test, Lewis initially consented, but then grew agitated, telling the officers to go away, Davies wrote in the report.
“Because of the change in Brandon’s demeanor, officer Ortiz and officer Deaton, who had arrived to assist, moved closer to my location, on either side of Brandon,” Davies said.
However, Lewis’ complaint states that the officers became upset due to a “perceived lack of cooperation and without any reasonable justification, defendants Davies, Ortiz and Deaton took Mr. Lewis to the ground and assaulted him while he lay in the middle of the road.”
Davies’ report states that things got physical only after Lewis resisted arrest, swinging his arms and pulling away.
When Lewis reportedly continued to struggle, the officers did take Lewis to the ground, where he resumed swinging and kicking, Davies said.
All three officers worked to pin Lewis down. When Lewis tried to bring his legs up to kick Ortiz, Ortiz says he sat on Lewis.
“I dropped my full weight on Lewis at that time and he was swinging and kicking at me,” Ortiz’s report states. “I hit him in the face once with my right closed fist and looked down to see if he had stopped. He continued to struggle with us trying to break free from us by kicking and swinging.”
Ortiz said he told Lewis to stop resisting, but Lewis just screamed profanities. “I hit Lewis in the face twice more with my fists and twice more with my elbow and during that time I was giving him commands to stop resisting us,” Ortiz said.
In Lewis’ complaint, Lewis claims he screamed, “I’m not fighting,” and called for help.
Ortiz, however, said Lewis told them he “was going to kill all of us.”
Once officers had Lewis cuffed, they walked him over to Deaton’s vehicle so they could search him.
The officers claim Lewis again refused to cooperate and they had to separate his feet.
At this point, officers say Lewis slammed his head into the patrol vehicle’s hood repeatedly.
Lewis’ claim states that officers “struck his head against the front hood.”
Davies said when Lewis spit blood on him he put a spit mask on him. Later, Lewis got the mask off and continued to hit his head against the rear driver’s side window, Davies said.
When officers finally got Lewis to the jail and he calmed down, he told Davies and officer Jason Hazelo he was sorry, according to the police report. Further, he told Davies that he had drank rum and malt liquor earlier in the evening and that when he drinks his anger problem can get out of control, according to a police report.
“He advised that he didn’t remember a lot of the specifics of the altercation because, “I black out and don’t remember what happens,” when he gets very upset,” Davies said.
Later, Davies and Hazelo reportedly offered to bring Lewis to the emergency room, but Lewis refused, even signing a form declining medical treatment.
Lewis’ attorney Michael Harper writes in the complaint that Lewis spent the night in jail and only received medical care the next morning for a fractured eye socket and abrasions.
“Brandon Lewis has experienced significant physical and mental suffering, stress and upset as a result of the above-described events,” Harper writes.
Lewis is suing the Town of Payson, the police department and Ortiz, Deaton and Davies.