Surveillance camera video from a West Chester bar shows police striking a man repeatedly with batons during an arrest in May.
Police said he ignored their commands and took a fighting stance, but a Butler County grand jury this week declined to indict him in the incident and his attorney indicated West Chester Township is negotiating “a resolution.”
West Chester Police Chief Erik Niehaus is investigating the incident. The officers involved, Randall Farris, Paul Lovell and Gary Gabbard, remain on duty.
According to Jill Del Greco, public information officer with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, it’s up to each independent police department to determine policy on investigating matters like this internally or seeking assistance from an outside agency.
The video, released Thursday, shows the officers approaching Jeremy Lewis, 29, of Blanchester, on the deck of Win, Place or Show Sports Bar & Grill in West Chester Township after 2:30 a.m. May 6. Lewis was suspected of being involved in an altercation earlier at the bar. Niehaus said Lewis took a “fighting stance to the officers,” and refused their orders. The officers struck Lewis with their batons and used chemical irritants to subdue him. Lewis faced three assault charges as well as charges of obstructing official business and resisting arrest, but the grand jury didn’t indict him.
Lewis’ attorney Kenneth Crehan issued a statement Friday:
“Mr. Lewis was very disappointed to see the West Chester Police Department’s press release. Clearly, Chief Niehaus’ statements indicated that Mr. Lewis committed a crime even after all charges were thrown out by a Butler County grand jury. Mr. Lewis was also disappointed that it was reported he was beaten for only 10 seconds rather than the actual 40 seconds of beating with 34 baton blows and 3 shots of mace to the face. All of this can be seen on the unedited version of the surveillance footage.
“Regardless, Mr. Lewis’ goal is to resolve this matter as quickly and amicably as possible. We’re happy to report that West Chester has been in contact with us and we look forward to working towards a resolution.”
Crehan declined to say whether Lewis will pursue a lawsuit against the department.
West Chester Township spokeswoman Barb Wilson said the township doesn’t comment on pending litigation.
Lewis declined to comment through his attorney.