DPS: No evidence of criminal behavior from trooper in viral McComb traffic stop

The Mississippi Hwy Patrol released dash cam footage and a statement on a traffic stop in McComb that went viral online.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WDAM) - Dashcam footage has been released as the investigation into a traffic stop that went viral involving a Mississippi Highway Patrol state trooper earlier this month has been completed.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says the incident has been the subject of attention on social media and media outlets after a video of the arrest went viral.

Below is the dashcam and in-cab footage of the arrest (Time stamps are included in the story to jump to certain parts of the footage):

On Aug. 5, Mississippi Highway Patrol State Trooper Hayden Falvey made a traffic stop on Delaware Avenue in McComb on a vehicle traveling at high speeds.

According to DPS, Falvey chased Lewis, stopping him on Schmidt Road. While approaching Lewis’ vehicle, Falvey smelled a strong aroma of burnt marijuana coming from the vehicle, and when he got to the vehicle, he noticed Lewis’ eyes were bloodshot and had a strong odor of burnt marijuana on his breath. It was determined at the time that Lewis’ driver’s license was suspended and that he was driving without insurance.

Lewis admitted to Falvey that there may have been a joint, or “roach,” in his vehicle [0:55], as well as admitted to smoking marijuana about 45 minutes to an hour before the traffic stop [1:10].

Falvey would place Lewis in handcuffs after developing probable cause that Lewis was driving his vehicle under the influence and may have illegal narcotics, and he began a search of the vehicle [2:10].

While searching the vehicle, two men, Gary and Derrius Lewis drove up in a Dodge Charger, stopped in the road and exited their vehicle [14:45], identifying themselves as Euguene’s brothers [15:00].

Falvey directed Gary and Derrius to get back in their vehicle and leave the scene, and after initially going against Falvey’s direction, Gary and Derrius left the scene.

DPS says Euguene became aggressive and resisted Falvey from placing him under arrest and placing and restraining him in the front passenger seat of Falvey’s police cruiser [16:45].

At that time, Falvey called dispatch and asked for assistance [18:28]. While he was trying to put Euguene into the cruiser and buckle him in, Gary and Derrius returned to the scene, again stopped on the road and exited their vehicle [18:50].

Believing that he had buckled Euguene into his cruiser, according to DPS, Falvey stepped to the back of the cruiser and again directed Gary and Derrius to return to their vehicle and leave the scene [19:06].

Because Euguene was not buckled in as Falvey thought, he quickly exited the vehicle and started shouting at Falvey.

DPS says Falvey was placed in an unsupportable position and created a dangerous situation for him and all three Lewis men after they ignored repeated commands by Falvey to return to their respective vehicles while constantly shouting expletives at Falvey and making it clear that they had no intention of following his commands.

According to DPS, Falvey never struck any of the men or used any force beyond the necessary restraining techniques used on Eugene.

Another man arrived at the scene and asked Falvey if he needed to call someone to help [21:00], but Falvey told him that additional police were already on their way [21:25] and asked the man to watch Gary and Derrius and make sure they did not attack Falvey from behind while he tried to put Eugene back in the cruiser. Eugene resisted the efforts, which resulted in him and Falvey falling to the ground [21:31].

Falvey, according to DPS, worked to secure Eugene with his knees and legs so that Falvey would be able to get to his tools on his belt in case Gary and Derrius approached him.

Eugene would eventually agree to move toward the cruiser [24:13], and Falvey helped Eugene to his feet and brought him back to the passenger side front seat of the cruiser, securing him with the seatbelt after Eugene again resisted Falvey’s efforts to put him in [24:40].

After Eugene was secured in the cruiser, Falvey went to Gary and Derrius, advising them that they were under arrest [25:15]. At this point, Trooper Joshua Huhn arrived at the scene and helped Falvey finish the arrests [26:15].

DPS says Falvey noticed that Derrius had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and was slurring his speech. Derrius did admit to drinking earlier but refused a preliminary breath test. Gary was unable to produce a valid driver’s license, and the tag on his vehicle was expired.

Eugene noted that he needed to go to the hospital [30:27]. Falvey immediately contacted dispatch again and requested an ambulance [30:31], all while Eugene started beating around the cruiser and damaged equipment [30:55].

Paramedics arrived at the scene, examined Eugene and determine that his vital signs were normal, no injuries were reported and he was medically cleared to be taken to jail.

According to MHSP procedure, all three men were taken to the Pike County Jail.

Throughout the incident, Gary began recording on Facebook Live after he saw what was happening between Eugene and Falvey.

After the Facebook Live went viral on social media, the family of the three men says that the video showed violent behavior from Falvey during the arrest.

With the release of the dash and in-cab footage, DPS has ruled that there is no evidence of criminal conduct by Falvey throughout the events.

“A review of this incident by MBI agents and command staff produced no evidence of criminal conduct by the trooper throughout the encounter,” said Mississippi Bureau of Investigations Director, Lt. Col. Charles Haynes.

Eugene Lewis was charged with careless driving; seatbelt violation; disregard for traffic device; window tint violation; no proof of insurance; driving under the influence other - first offense; resisting arrest and failure to comply.

Gary Lewis was charged with two counts of obstructing a public street; resisting arrest; failure to comply; no driver’s license on demand; seatbelt violation; expired tag; improperly displayed tag and window tint violation.

Derrius Lewis was charged with resisting arrest, failure to comply, public drunkenness and disturbing the peace.

“While DPS and MHSP recognize and respect the right of citizens to observe, and even record, law enforcement officers executing their duties, those rights are not without limitations,” says DPS Commission Sean Tindell. “As you will see, this event is a prime example of how even a routine traffic stop can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for both citizens and law enforcement officers when subjects resist arrest and when uninvolved persons interfere.”

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