Man says he was “on the verge of death”
August 12, 2013
An Oklahoman man claims that two off-duty police officers beat him within inches of his life then left him for dead following an argument he was having with his girlfriend during a picnic outing.
Yohawna Lewis and his girlfriend were having an argument over absent lunch meat last Saturday, Aug. 3 on the banks of the Illinois River in Tahlequah.
“We had no food, and that was the stupid argument we were having,” Lewis’ girlfriend Amanda Belty explained to NewsOn6.com.
Three men happened to wander by and demanded Lewis leave Belty alone.
“They acted like he was about to hit me and he wasn’t. I mean, we were arguing and that was that,” Belty stated.
Lewis says the men “aggressively started pushing me around, telling me he was a cop and that I was going to do what he said.”
When Lewis asked for identification and badge numbers, the three men laid in on him, pinning him to the ground and placing him in a choke hold, while one of the men kicked him.
“They jumped on me,” Lewis disclosed to NewsOn6, “and began sitting on top of me, punching me directly in the face, while another one in their party was saying, ‘hold him under, just hold him under.’ And they repeatedly did this.”
Photos of Lewis’s face post-confrontation tell the story of the brutal beating. He says he believed he was “on the verge of death,” and that only thoughts of his family allowed him to endure the ruthless onslaught.
As expected, the officers are defending their actions saying Lewis instigated the row.
“They said that you were threatening them and calling out racial slurs. Was any of that happening?” News6 reporter Tess Maune asked.
“I was pretty mad,” Lewis said. “I’m not gonna say that I didn’t. I don’t know what verbal threats would justify what these three men had done to me. They left me for dead.”
To add insult to injury, the men were not arrested after being questioned by park rangers.
The swelling in Lewis’s face has subsided, but he says the pain is still excruciating. “Unbelievably bad, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone,” Lewis remarks.
According to News On 6, the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission will file a report before turning the case over to the Cherokee County District Attorney.
The two police officers, members of the Oklahoma City Police Department, are reportedly on administrative leave.
In a somewhat related story, three different Oklahoma City Police officers are under criminal investigation after a car-jacker was beaten by officers and died on his way to the hospital on August 2.