ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Some questions still remain after the Rochester Police department released video of a what police are calling a struggle between a wanted man and officers during an arrest.
Police were trying to take Jarvis Lewis into custody when the altercation turned physical, some in the community saying the arrest involved the use of excessive force and questioning the footage of the incident that was released.
This video shows Rochester Police arresting Jarvis Lewis in what some are calling an excess use of force. The chief of police however, saying they did what was necessary to arrest a man they thought was dangerous.
“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,” said Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan.
The footage shows officers struggling with Lewis, who was wanted for felony charges. Officers at time kicking and punching Lewis as they try to take him into custody.
One investigator was put on leave, but the chief of police says he will be back on duty, saying after a preliminary review, she sees no instance that rises to a level where she would want to keep the investigator off duty.
The video has no audio and is not body worn camera footage, but blue light camera footage released for transparency and speed according to the chief.
“That was one of the benefits of this blue light camera is we could save some time and get a video out a lot quicker than if we had to go through each individual officers video,” said said Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan.
The video includes commentary from Rochester police department members.
This chief says this is to provide context, but executive director police accountability board is calling this unusual.
“Incomplete information is just not transparency Its just not,” said Conor Dwyer Reynolds, Executive Director, Police Accountability Board. “There’s a whole lot of information that we don’t have. The body worn camera footage that has audio, not releasing that and only releasing this footage gives us an incomplete picture.”
Reynolds said overall, it is challenging to pass judgement on the actions of the officers without seeing body worn camera footage and hearing from witness. He added the police accountability board will not be investigating this incident, due to a lack of resources.
The police union president however says the video justifies the actions of the officers saying in a statement;
“I believe the BWC and other videos are going to completely exonerate our members and will clearly show that their actions were justified. They were in a life and death struggle with a dangerous individual who had a loaded handgun and was completely disregarding and not complying with any verbal orders. He was told that he was under arrest. He chose to resist and to struggle and fight with officers with that loaded weapon. That is the most extremely dangerous situation police officers can find themselves in and we are extremely thankful that our members along with any other innocent bystanders were not hurt or injured by the dangerous actions of that individual who has a propensity for violence and a history of total disregard for life. Too many have unfairly jumped to the wrong conclusions without allowing any benefit of doubt for those officers who placed their lives at risk to take a dangerous criminal off of our streets.”Mike Mazzeo, President Rochester Police Locust Club
An internal review of the incident is still underway by RPD. The chief says the department will release body worn camera footage after it is review, which she adds can take time.
Police took Lewis and another man into custody — who they say showed up on scene during the incident and also fought with officers.
Lewis was charged with Assault in the second degree— Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the second degree and third degree— Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the third degree— and Resisting Arrest.