Lawrence, KS – A Lawrence police officer, who shot and injured a convicted felon as he was attacking one of her fellow officers, has been charged with felony reckless aggravated battery.
The incident occurred at approximately 5:30 p.m. on May 29, when Lawrence Police Officer Ian McCann stopped a vehicle for a seatbelt violation, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
When Officer McCann asked the driver, later identified as 34-year-old Akira Lewis, for his identification, Lewis refused.
The officer then requested backup, and cautioned Lewis that he would be arrested if he continued to be noncompliant.
Officer Brindley Blood arrived at the scene and positioned herself on the passenger side of Lewis’ vehicle, at which point Officer McCann opened the driver’s side door and began to physically remove the suspect from the SUV.
Lewis responded by getting out of the vehicle on this own, then proceeded to attack and batter the officer, prosecutors said.
“Officer Blood tried to intervene and during that intervention she discharged her weapon, striking Mr. Lewis,” Douglas County District Attorney Charles Branson told the Lawrence Journal-World.
Lewis was transported to a local hospital in stable condition, and officials have not disclosed where he was shot. He was ultimately treated and released.
Investigators later discovered that Lewis had two outstanding warrants at the time of the incident. He was also previously convicted of felony aggravated battery in Douglas County, after he struck a man with a baseball bat in 2016.
He was sentenced to probation for that offense.
Lewis has been charged with misdemeanor offenses of driving without proof of insurance, interference with law enforcement, failing to wear a seatbelt, and battery against a law enforcement officer, Branson said.
His initial court appearance is scheduled for Sep. 26.
Officer Blood and Officer McCann were both placed on administrative leave following the shooting, as per department policy.
Because of the conflict created by Lewis possibly being both a defendant and a victim in the case, Douglas County prosecutors requested that the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office review the matter, The Kansas City Star reported.
The Johnson County District Attorney ultimately recommended filing the charges against Lewis, but the Douglas County District Attorney opted to charge Officer Blood, as well.
Branson announced the charges against her on Thursday, the Lawrence Journal-World reported.
The Lawrence Police Department’s internal investigation into the officers’ actions will begin immediately, the department announced shortly thereafter.
“At this time, there is no set timetable for when the internal review will be completed,” the department said, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
Lewis has alleged that he “believed that he was being racially discriminated against” during the traffic stop, and said he “repeatedly requested that a supervisor be brought to the location,” according to a statement released by his attorney on Thursday.
“Had such a request been honored here, the situation would have been resolved much differently,” the statement read.
Lewis also questioned why Officer Blood shot him instead of using “any number of non-lethal steps,” especially since he was “unarmed,” according to the statement.
Officer Blood’s initial appearance is scheduled for Sep. 27.
According to KCTV, the witness list for Lewis’ offenses had six names listed.
The witness list for Officer Blood’s pending charge had 48 people listed.
Lawrence City Manager Tom Markus refused to speculate on what the charge against the officer might mean for the Lawrence Police Department.
“Those are charges issued by the district attorney, and I think that it’s inappropriate to make comments that could prejudice the procedures that are to follow,” he told the Lawrence Journal-World.