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Bail set at $100K for drug suspect shot by Niagara Falls police

LOCKPORT - Bail was set at $100,000 Wednesday for Stacey M. Lewis, the man shot by Niagara Falls police Sept. 28 during a drug raid on a 20th Street home.

Lewis, who was shot once in the abdomen, came to court on crutches and was in evident pain, moving with obvious difficulty.

Defense attorney Robert Viola told Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III that Lewis' injury was a main reason for setting "a reasonable bail," for which he suggested $5,000.

"He is in a lot of pain," Viola told the judge. "I think we can all agree that recovering from any ailment we have is easier at home than in whatever accommodations are available to him at the jail."

Murphy conceded that point, but added, "There's no evidence he's receiving inadequate care at the jail." The judge told Viola if he learns otherwise, he can ask the court to reconsider its bail ruling.

Assistant District Attorney Peter M. Wydysh asked for $100,000 bail, pointing to a large quantity of drugs and an assault rifle allegedly seized at the house, as well as Lewis' criminal record, which includes two state prison sentences for drug felonies.

"It's obviously a serious matter. The allegations are serious, the amounts of drugs are serious," Murphy said. After listening to the arguments of the attorneys, he concluded there was "at least probable cause to believe that (Lewis) was in possession of the drugs."

"Disgusting," was the one-word reaction of Lewis' mother, Dorothy Parks, who was in the courtroom.

"It was very unfair," said Lewis' girlfriend, Miya Carr. She said she was unsure if Lewis could post bail. Normally, a bail bondsman will offer a bond for 10 percent of the bail amount, or $10,000 in this case.

"Stacey told me to tell you all that he was shot with his hands up," Carr said.  "What's the justification for shooting an African-American man with his hands up, with everything that's going on in the world?"

The officer who shot Lewis was Thomas Rodgers. His attorney, Thomas H. Burton, told The Buffalo News the morning after the shooting that Lewis was partially concealed behind a protrusion in the first-floor hallway, so the officer could see his face but not his hands. He said Lewis refused to put his hands up and was shot when he spun toward the officer.

Asked if a grand jury will consider evidence in the shooting, Wydysh said, "We're reviewing everything about this incident, and a determination of how to proceed will be made shortly."

Lewis already has been held for grand jury action after a Niagara Falls City Court preliminary hearing, in which Viola contended that the proof of Lewis' ownership of the drugs was "not overwhelming."

Viola argued Wednesday that Lewis actually lives at a different address on Linwood Avenue and was interrupted by the police while working on a remodeling project that he'd been hired to do by the son of the owner of the 20th Street home.

"He was doing some home improving and remodeling," Viola said. "I believe at the time of the officers' entry, he was doing some drywalling."

Murphy seemed skeptical, asking what time the raid occurred. The answer is 8 p.m.

Wydysh said police had a search warrant that named Lewis as well as the address at 488 20th St. He said the search turned up a man's jacket in a second-floor bedroom, along with Lewis' wallet, mail addressed to him at 488 20th St., and in the pockets of the jacket, four one-ounce bags of crack cocaine.

The prosecutor said other drugs were found in a bowl in the kitchen as well as in the basement. In all, he said, there were about six ounces of crack. Police previously said they also found two bags of heroin, a package of unidentified pills, $2,000 in cash, and a pit bull dog named "Chaos." Wydysh said there was a pit bull puppy as well.

Also found in the bedroom with the jacket, the crack, the wallet and the mail was a l0aded rifle, which police have described as a Hungarian-made knockoff of an AK-47. Lewis was charged with possessing the weapon as well as the drugs.

"We believe this to be his residence, a residence he was routinely at and stayed at," Wydysh said. He said swabs were taken from the gun and the other evidence, looking for DNA and fingerprints, but results have yet to be received.

County property records list the owner of 488 20th St. as Christopher Carter.

Viola said as the SWAT team was battering its way into the house, police saw Lewis through a window running up to the second floor. Police previously said when Officer Thomas Rodgers, the first officer into the house, shot Rodgers, he thought Lewis had a weapon in his hands. Police reported that they found a box cutter with an open blade on the floor next to Lewis.

"Our investigation seems to indicate my client was not armed and was not using deadly physical force," Viola said.

He said when Lewis heard the officers shouting "Police!" Lewis turned around, came back downstairs and was shot.

A second man was caught in the residence, but Wydysh said, "At this point, that individual has not been charged with anything."

 

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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