A Mississippi Highway Patrol officer is under public scrutiny and the McComb mayor, after a video of him aggressively detaining a Black man during a traffic stop went viral. The footage seems to support excessive force claims as the suspect is handcuffed and the white officer is captured yanking him around and tossing him on the side of the road.
Law enforcement has launched an internal investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the Friday, Aug. 5, arrest of Eugene Lewis. One key piece of evidence is the now-viral footage of the incident, filmed by the suspect’s brother, Packer Lewis.
At the beginning of the five-minute video, Packer says, “We looking at you choke the man. We gonna stand back, but we gonna record you. We wanna know why you were in the car jumping on him.”
The unidentified officer hits Eugene in the arm 19 seconds into the video.
Less than 8 seconds later, he is pulling on the cuffed suspect and at some points, using his body to push and shove him, causing him to fall into the side brush area.
Packer admonishes the officer for what he considers to be excessive force, saying, “Don’t do that. Aye!”
The brother informs the witnesses around and the officer he is recording on “Live,” but that does not stop the patrolman from grabbing and snatching the man around. In the video, Eugene looks to comply.
“You got him handcuffed, man!” Packer is heard shouting and repeating himself as he records, saying, “You don’t have no business jumping on him. Look at this!”
Another voice, Darius Lewis, confirms what the footage seems to show, the suspect is handcuffed while being thrown around.
After he joins Packer’s chorus, the officer pulls out a gun or Taser and aims it at the two men.
Packer says, looking at the weapon, “We don’t care.”
They both say the officer needs to go to jail for his conduct, likening his use of force to that of another headline-grabbing police-involved incident.
“That’s how George Floyd got killed!” Packer says repeatedly. “That’s how George Floyd died.”
Packer asked for the McComb police to arrive to help sort out justice, saying in each step of the detainment the officer is trying to hurt his brother.
As he says this, the officer is kneeing Eugene in the back seat of the car.
A second patrol car arrives on the scene and all three men are arrested.
In an interview with WJTV 12, Eugene said, when the officer stopped him, he asked him for his name and to put his hands out of the window of the car.
The motorist admits that he did not do as he was told but was pulled out of the car.
Eugene says the patroller asked him if he smoked and drank. He said he didn’t smoke but was a drinker. He just had not been drinking that day. The officer, allegedly, did not find anything on him or in his car.
“He comes back to the car, he didn’t find nothing, he said, ‘You going with me,’” Eugene recounts. “I said, ‘Going with you for what?’”
“He said, ‘You going with me because you said you smoke weed and was doing 35 in 30 [speed limit].’”
Eugene says he called him racist, and after saying it, the patrol struck him in the throat.
“I can’t let this go, because I know I ain’t did nothing to him. And I know this same white guy, will get out here and do another Black guy like that.”
“If nobody was around, ain’t no telling what he would have did to me,” Eugene declared.
Since the release of the video on Facebook at 7:19 p.m. on the day of the incident, it has been viewed over 468K times, shared over 12K, and has over 5K comments.
On Monday, Aug. 8, Packer wrote on his profile, “I greatly appreciate all the love and support throughout this situation, first wanna thank God for spearing (sic) my brother’s life.”
“Honestly believe that if this situation would’ve happened at night that either me or my brother would’ve been gunned down or seriously hurt,” Packer wrote. “We don’t need officers here to protect and serve like this trooper.”
Packer shared they stayed in jail over the weekend, saying “for absolutely nothing.”
“Sad, but it’s the world we live in,” he continued to say, before asking, “How could a law enforcement officer or trooper make you leave and you watching him do bodily harm to your family? Sorry sir I’m not leaving and willing the suffer whatever the consequences may be, again I appreciate all the love and support shown. Me and my family greatly and genuinely appreciate the love and support throughout this situation, could’ve easily been your family or your child. We will not let this rest, justice please.”
The next day after the incident, Saturday, Aug. 6, the mayor of the city of McComb, Quordiniah Lockley, released a statement on his social media about the incident, saying he was “alarmed.”
“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,” it read.
Lockley shared he viewed the video several times the night of its occurrence.
“I contacted Representative Daryl Porter and asked him to intervene on behalf of the City of McComb since it involved a Highway Patrol Officer,” he said. “I was informed this morning that an internal investigation was going to be conducted.”
The mayor asked the public to allow the investigation to transpire but encouraged the people to continue to let their voices be heard.