While preparing to lay to rest their loved one after a tragic accident, the family of Tyre Sampson has made a statement about someone claiming to be the teen’s cousin.
Sampson’s mother told detectives “she does not know who this woman is,” OCSO spokesperson Michelle Guido shared in an email on Thursday, March 31, to the Sun-Sentinel. Her lawyers also confirmed no one in the family knows this alleged cousin.
The woman, known to the media as Shay Johnson, has emerged as a voice advocating for justice for the 14-year-old Missouri teen. She was busy doing press surrounding the March 24 accident, speaking at a memorial vigil and providing the media much needed insight into what allegedly happened that fateful evening.
In the hours following the teen’s fatal drop from the 430-foot free-fall ride, Johnson told media that Sampson was denied entry on two rides earlier in the evening, but he called her excitedly about getting on the FreeFall ride.
“He called me. He said ‘They gonna let me ride. I can ride! I can ride!” the imposter continued. “I said, ‘OK, get on. I didn’t know this would be my last time talking to him.”
She targeted her anger toward the operator who allowed the 6 feet 5, 340 pound teen on the ride despite the weight restrictions. “You told him he couldn’t get on the swing. You told me he couldn’t get on the slingshot. So, why did you allow him to get on this if he was overweight?”
“I hate it,” she continued in a self-appointed position as a family spokesperson, “I hate that they did not turn him down. … I feel like they just looked [him] over just to get his money.”
But the woman many believed to be Sampson’s cousin, is Lavonia Browning, a 32-year-old Orlando woman. Confirmed by local paper the Orlando Sentinel via court records and interviews.
Records obtained by the local outlet found Browning had been “jailed at least four times in Orange County, including on charges of domestic violence and driving with a suspended or revoked license. During an April 2020 arrest, she gave a false name and ID to a deputy who pulled her over, according to an arrest report.”
She’s since been released on bond following a December arrest for “felony arson and criminal mischief charges” for allegedly setting a car on fire in August. Browning is currently awaiting trial.
Local reporters were able to identify where the woman used to work. She was an entertainer at Flash Dancers Bar, an adult entertainment club in Orlando, for five years.
The establishment’s owner William Sierer, who has Browning on file as Lewishena Browning, told the Orlando Sentinel that he felt “terrible” about his now-former employee’s actions. “We are part of the community here in Orlando, and I feel terrible about the tragedy,” he said.
Authorities have said there are no plans to charge Browning because she has not committed a crime, specifically mentioning she has not raised or received money in the high school football player’s name. No arrest will be made based on this information.
The phone number Johnson gave to the press has also been deactivated.