Vehicle camera footage clears Trooper in McComb incident

Published 3:39 pm Friday, August 12, 2022

All necessary inquiries into an incident involved a state trooper in McComb Aug. 5, 2022, have been completed by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, the Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol, and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation.

“A review of this incident by MBI agents and command staff produced no evidence of criminal conduct by the trooper throughout the encounter,” said MBI Director Lt. Col. Charles Haynes.

According to the camera footage, Trooper Falvey attempted to stop Eugene Lewis as he was traveling on Delaware Avenue at a high rate of speed, passing on the right, not wearing a seatbelt and speeding through a yellow light. Lewis eventually stopped on rural, unpopulated Schmidt Road.

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Falvey identified a strong odor of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle and noted Lewis’ eyes were bloodshot and glassy. Lewis’ license was suspended and he did not have auto insurance. Lewis admitted to the trooper that he had smoked marijuana and may have a “roach” in his vehicle.

Falvey placed Lewis in handcuffs and searched his vehicle. During the search, Gary and Derrius Lewis drove up, stopped in the road and exited their vehicle. They identified themselves as Lewis’ brothers. Because Falvey had no backup and was in an unpopulated area, he directed the brothers to return to their vehicle and leave the scene, which they did after protesting.

When Falvey attempted to place Lewis in the police cruiser, Lewis became belligerent and resisted physically. Falvey requested assistance from dispatch, and continued to try to get Lewis in the vehicle. At this time, the brothers returned and parked in the road again, exiting their vehicle.

Thinking Lewis had been buckled into his cruiser, Falvey stepped away and directed the brothers to return to their vehicle and leave. But Lewis had not been buckled in and exited the vehicle, shouting at the trooper.

All three Lewis men ignored repeated commands by Falvey, continually shouting expletives at the officer.

“Nevertheless, Trooper Falvey never struck any of the Lewis men or used any force beyond the necessary restraining techniques used upon E. Lewis,” the official release reads.

Twenty-one minutes into the video, another citizen pulled up and asked Trooper Falvey if he needed to call for assistance. Falvey told him additional officers were on the way and asked him to keep an eye on the two brothers while he attempted to place Lewis back into the cruiser. Lewis resisted, causing both men to fall to the ground. When the trooper had him secured, he was able to get him into the cruiser and buckle him in, though Lewis continually resisted.

At this point, Falvey approached the brothers and told them they were under arrest. Trooper Joshua Huhn arrived and assisted Falvey with the arrests. Falvey noticed Derrius Lewis had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath and was slurring his speech. He admitted to drinking earlier but refused a breath test. Gary Lewis was unable to produce a valid driver license and the vehicle on his tag was expired.

Eugene Lewis said he needed to go to the hospital, so Falvey requested an ambulance. Lewis began thrashing about in the cruiser, damaging equipment. Paramedics arrived, examined Lewis and determined his vitals were normal, he had no injuries and was medically cleared to be transported to jail.

All three men were taken to Pike County Jail.

Eugene Lewis was charged with careless driving, seat belt violation, disregard for traffic device, window tint violation, no proof of insurance, DUI Other 1st, resisting arrest and failure to comply.

Gary Lewis was charged with two counts of obstructing a public street, resisting arrest, failure to comply, no driver license on demand, seat belt violation, expired tag, improperly displayed tag, and window tint violation.

Derrius Lewis was charged with resisting arrest, failure to comply, public drunkenness and disturbing the peace.

“While DPS and MHSP recognize and respect the right of citizens to observe, and even record, law enforcement officers executing their duties, those rights are not without limitations,” said Commissioner Sean Tindell. “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.”

The agency’s video footage from Trooper Hayden Falvey’s dash and in-cab cameras have ben combined and synchronized with the phone video that has been widely circulated on social media. That video was released Friday, Aug. 12.

DPS and MHSP take all allegations of excessive force and other employee misconduct seriously. Such allegations will always be investigated and given due consideration.

“MHSP’s internal review of this matter revealed no evidence of excessive force,” said MHSP Enforcement Division Director Lt. Col. Malachi Sanders. “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.”

Read the official release from MHP here. Watch the full video here.