Community criticizes use of force by Rochester police during arrest of wanted man

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) – For the second time in one weekend, the tactics of Rochester police were criticized. This time, after a man was taken into custody on Remington Street on Saturday evening.

Police said they were trying to take a wanted man, 31-year-old Jarvis Lewis, into custody and he fought them, but some community members said police used excessive force on the man.

News 8 obtained several different videos from neighbors and witnesses on the scene. A couple of the videos show a portion of the struggle when two officers kick Lewis. News 8 reached out to RPD specifically regarding these videos but didn’t hear back as of Sunday evening.

Sharon Johnson is Lewis’ mom and said she rushed over when her other son called her to tell her what was happening.

“I’m afraid for him, I don’t know what could happen next, and it’s just a scary experience,” she said of her thoughts when she received the call. “When I came here they were beating him, literally punching, kicking, kneeing, and they also had their knee on his neck and his eyes rolled back in his head.”

Sunday afternoon, RPD sent a press release outlining their account of what happened. According to police, officers spotted Lewis, a man they said was wanted on multiple felony charges in the City of Rochester. They said when they made contact with him, the struggle started.

Police said Lewis had a gun and was fighting with officers. Officers took Lewis and another man, 32-year-old Travis Lewis who they said showed up on scene and also fought with officers, into custody. Police said an illegal handgun was recovered during the arrest.

Police said one officer was injured and taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. Two other officers were treated for exposure.

RPD Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan called for an internal review and said the department will release preliminary body worn camera footage within 72 hours of the incident. She said some footage is outstanding as some cameras were lost during the incident.

Leverett Copeland is part of the RASE Commission and also said he witnessed the incident.

“That young man was on the ground, they didn’t have to kick him, the way they arrested him he wasn’t resisting arrest or anything like that but he was already on the ground and it kind of reminded me of George Floyd,” Copeland said.

Conor Reynolds is the executive director of the Police Accountability Board. He said the PAB needs more funding to conduct independent investigations into incidents like this.

“The question when we see videos like this is what are the policies, procedures, and training that may have led officers to do something inappropriate,” Reynolds said.

Jarvis Lewis was charged with Assault in the second degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon (CPW) in the second degree and third degree, Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the third degree and Resisting Arrest.

Travis Lewis was charged with Resisting Arrest and Obstructing Government Administration in the second degree.

Both men are in Monroe County Jail.

Mayor Lovely Warren released a statement Monday afternoon, saying: “I am deeply disturbed seeing a resident kicked while he was held to the ground. We must ensure that our police department always acts to protect and serve no matter how difficult the situation or arrest. I appreciate Chief Herriott-Sullivan taking quick action to suspend the officer involved and further investigate what occurred.”

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