Craft to speak to C-P Council on Tevin Lewis shooting

by Christiaan Mader

The Nov. 3 council meeting is well past the 30-day window to report requested by Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux in mid-September. Boudreaux and Chief Craft cite scheduling conflicts for the delay.

Jim Craft
Robin May

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft will appear before the City-Parish Council at a Nov. 3 meeting to discuss further the shooting of Tevin Lewis by an LPD officer on Sept. 12, according to Chairman Kenneth Boudreaux. Boudreaux, in response to public outcry at the LPD’s alleged opacity and lack of public accountability in its handling of the case, requested at a Sept. 16 council meeting that the police produce a detailed report addressing the incident. Boudreaux requested the report be delivered 30 days from that meeting.

According to Boudreaux, LPD officials notified him that a report was prepared in time for a council meeting set for Oct. 20, but indicated that Chief Craft would not be able to attend. Boudreaux wanted Craft to answer the call himself rather than speak through a subordinate representative, so his appearance was rescheduled for a regular council meeting on Nov. 3, the earliest that both Boudreaux and Craft could attend.

Cpl. Paul Mouton, LPD’s public information officer, confirmed that Craft will appear before the council, and noted that the LPD’s report had been submitted to the FBI, the Louisiana State Police and District Attorney Keith Stutes' office for review.

When asked what specific aspects of the case Craft could be expected to address, Mouton noted that the chief was “limited on what can be said” given that the report was now under review for potential prosecution of Lewis by the DA’s office. Should the DA initiate criminal proceedings, Lewis would face charges of felon in possession of a firearm, illegal carrying of a weapon and resisting arrest by flight. We have confirmed that the DA’s office is reviewing the case.

Lewis was shot in the back in flight from police attempting to arrest another man on an OWI warrant outside of house on Sonny Street. Officers swarmed and handcuffed Lewis, who had no standing warrants at the time, after he collapsed in a ditch, according to witnesses that appeared at an NAACP press conference in September. The police report indicates that Lewis had a firearm “tied to him.”

Eyewitness Shelia Carter has claimed that officers responding to the scene entered her home to watch surveillance footage of the incident captured on her DVR from cameras positioned on her porch. After the video revealed the first of two shots fired at the visibly fleeing Lewis, the attending officer became hostile, stopped the video and demanded she release it, according to Carter.

The DVR was obtained via search warrant issued by 15th Judicial District Court Commissioner Thomas Frederick. The charge listed on the warrant is “attempted first degree murder of a police officer,” which is not one of the three arresting charges.

The LPD’s internal shoot team investigation was reportedly “shadowed” by the Louisiana State Police.

Black leaders have since demanded the release of the video to the public and the return of the DVR device to Carter. To date the LPD has not agreed to release the video, citing use of the video and DVR in an ongoing investigation as the reason for denying the request.