Rarely is it a good idea to get sarcastic with a police officer you don’t know, but that’s what then-14-year-old Lance Lewis did when he blew a kiss to a Bradenton Beach cop while strolling down the Florida beach with his sister (both pictured). The 49-year-old officer, Tim Matthews, wasn’t amused. And according to a lawsuit filed by Lance’s family, Matthews proceeded to get out of his car and put the 130-pound boy in a choke hold while shoving him to the ground, before arresting him and booking him into a juvenile detention center. Christ.
The Bradenton Herald says the 2008 incident ended with Matthews filing a report that claimed Lance as using foul language near kids, and that when he went to arrest the boy, his sister Veronica, 18, pushed and kicked him in the leg. (A 2008 news report relays Lance supposedly said to Matthews, “I don’t have a problem, nigger”; Matthews is white.) So I guess that’s what allegedly led to this?
The 20-page lawsuit filed by a Hillsborough County family is seeking damages after Lance Lewis, 14, and Veronica Lewis, 18, were both arrested for battery on a law enforcement officer on April 20, 2008. Lance Lewis was acquitted and Veronica Lewis’ case was dismissed, according to court documents. The lawsuit states former Bradenton Beach Police Officer Tim Matthews had no probable cause and violated the Fourth Amendment when he arrested the teens who were walking at Coquina Beach. After Lewis blew the kiss, Matthews responded by getting out of his car and asking Lewis if he was retarded, according to court documents.
Veronica Lewis noticed Matthews was aggressively approaching her brother, who was wearing a cast on a broken arm, and she reacted by stepping between the two, according to court records. Matthews pushed Veronica Lewis aside and put a choke hold on Lance Lewis, the suit says. Veronica Lewis noticed her brother had a hard time breathing and told Matthews he was killing her brother. She placed her arm on Matthews’ arm to attempt to restrain him, according to court records.
“A teenager blowing a kiss at the officer in no way amounts to probable cause to confront the defendants nor does having a kiss blown at Officer Matthews create a reasonable suspicious that the Defendant or her brother were involved in criminal activity or that the defendants were armed and or dangerous,” said Tampa-based defense attorney Alex Hajaistron in court records.
Did we mention Matthews, who had 13 years on the force (where he worked part-time, in addition to his building contractor gig), resigned shortly after he made the arrests? That, even after the Bradenton Police Department said it had Matthews’ back, and that he used appropriate force in dealing with a violent suspect. A judge initially forced Lance into home detention while his case was reviewed; charges against he and his sister were quickly dropped, which can only aid their the $200k lawsuit. And while it sounds like this kid a twerp (calling cops “niggers,” really?), a little man-on-man affection never hurt anybody.