A white Mississippi Highway Patrol trooper is now under investigation after a Facebook Live video posted Friday (Aug. 5) began to circulate online. The Department of Public Safety is looking into an incident where a handcuffed Black man was seemingly assaulted by an officer on Smitty Road in McComb.
Eugene Lewis is the Black man who appears in the footage and is thankful his brother Gary was there to record the troubling encounter. The victim spoke with local Jackson news station WAPT 16, an ABC affiliate, and said he was stopped for careless driving, reportedly going 30 mph in a 35 mph-zone. Next, the trooper handcuffed him and informed Lewis that he was being arrested for driving while intoxicated. “I said, ‘Alright, cool.’ You know that racist stuff is coming out at you right now. So, when I said that, he hit me. He couldn’t throw me in, he couldn’t get me in the car because my back was up against the door, but he went [and kneed] me in my stomach,” Lewis explained to the outlet.
The victim claimed the trooper attacked him while he was handcuffed in the backseat of the patrol car. “He jumped in; he went to choking me. Choked me, he slapped me a couple times,” he explained. Eugene added that he managed to get out of the vehicle because he was frightened of what might happen if he stayed in the car. “I got out of the car because he was beating me. Ain’t no way I could have stayed in the car if I was able to get out of that car and let him come back and beat me some more — because that’s what he was going to do,” he said.
Gary arrived on the scene a short time after the altercation began. He said the trooper pulled out his firearm along with a stun gun and threatened to use the weapons if he did not leave the area. “Well, take me to jail. I’m not about to let you treat my brother like they treated George Floyd. If it takes you shooting me, or whatever it takes, I’m not leaving my brother,” Gary told the law enforcement official.
As the confrontation between Eugene and the trooper went on, Gary continued recording. “He stuck his knee in my side. That’s where I got big, ole bruises over here. I was telling him, ‘Man, get out of my side. I can’t breathe, man, stop,'” Eugene recalled. The footage shows the trooper wrestling on top of the handcuffed man. They eventually fall into a ditch. A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety released a statement following the incident. It read, “This incident is being reviewed internally by the Department of Public Safety. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation is also conducting an inquiry. No further comment will be made at this time.”