ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Police Department officials released video footage of a man being taken into custody Saturday evening on Remington Avenue, an incident where some in the community accused the police of using excessive force.
The edited, 14 minute video, was made available to media via an unlisted YouTube link Thursday afternoon. It is not body worn camera footage, but Blue Light camera footage from the corner of Remington Street and Kohlman Street.
Police said Sunday two people, who are brothers, were arrested in connection to the incident:
- Jarvis Lewis — Second degree assault, second degree and third degree criminal possession of a weapon, third degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest
- Travis Lewis — Resisting arrest, second degree obstructing government administration
During a press conference Thursday, police said the ballistics for Jarvis’ gun matched several ongoing shooting investigations in the city, including a case on Coleman Street where a woman was shot, and another on Dove Street where a juvenile was shot.
Police say Jarvis will face multiple felonies for those shootings, in addition to the charges filed from Saturday’s encounter on Remington Avenue.
Watch the full video
Police say officers responded to the 300 block of Remington Avenue around 7:30 p.m. Saturday where they found Jarvis Lewis, who police say was wanted for multiple felony charges. Police say after making contact, a struggle ensued and Jarvis Lewis fought with officers while he was in possession of a handgun.
Police say an illegal handgun was recovered and a second man, Travis Lewis, arrived and also fought officers.
Some community members said police used excessive force.
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.
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.”
Police said one officer was injured and taken to the hospital where he was treated and released. Two other officers were treated for exposure.
Rochester Police 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.
As of Thursday, no body worn camera footage has been released to the public. The chief said the Blue Light camera footage was a more efficient way of releasing the best quality video while still showing the best angle of the incident.
Chief Herriott-Sullivan held a press conference Thursday to discuss the video release.
“They [officers] have him [Jarvis Lewis] on the ground, and they’re physically trying to handcuff him, and that’s when the gun is discovered,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “The effort there was to obviously get the gun away from him and also to put him in custody.”
The police chief said the techniques officers used were due to the man refusing to allow himself to be handcuffed.
“Those were strikes and jabs to get him t release his rigidity and allow himself to be handcuffed,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “Until he’s placed into handcuffs — let’s be honest: It doesn’t look pretty, but that’s the reality of what law enforcement has to deal with. The goal there was to get him handcuffed and get him secured, which is what you saw eventually happened.”
Rochester police press conference
The chief said she wants her officers to use techniques that will keep them safe.
“In this instance, where this person had a gun, and you know he has a handgun, I’m not going hold you to what specific techniques you utilize,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “I expect you to protect yourself, protect your life, and community members who might get hit by something — that’s got to be a priority. You’re taught to survive when your life is threatened or your life is in danger.”
The chief said Jarvis Lewis was wanted for “some serious crime violations.”
“This is someone who was wanted for some serious crime violations,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “He is a level 3 sex offender, and as you saw in the video, he did not want to be taken into custody. If you have someone that just does not want to be arrested, or go to jail, they elect to resist in a certain way. What’s challenging here is we can’t predict that.”
Despite the community criticism, the chief said the outcome could’ve been worse.
“It didn’t look pretty, but no one was seriously hurt,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “He had that gun when the officers approached him — what if he pulled it out and used it? We could have had another officer involved shooting and we did not. I’m very happy with that point.”
The police chief said the officer who was put on administrative leave in connection to this incident will return to duty Friday.
“For right now I see no incident where it rises to the level where I would want to take them off of the road or from their road duties,” Herriott-Sullivan said. “Professional standards is still looking into it; we want to, in the interest of transparency, do a full review.”
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.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.