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Man shot by Niagara Falls cop during drug raid pleads guilty

LOCKPORT - Stacey M. Lewis, a Niagara Falls man shot by a police officer during a drug raid Sept. 28, pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony gun possession and drug possession charges stemming from that incident.

Lewis, 33, admitted to Niagara County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III that he had an assault weapon and 4.67 ounces of crack cocaine in the house at 488 20th St. in the Falls.

Murphy set sentencing for Jan. 31, but he reduced Lewis' bail from $100,000 to $10,000 because of the preindictment plea to reduced charges.

Stacey Lewis, who was shot by Niagara Falls police during a drug raid Sept. 28, 2016.

Stacey Lewis, who was shot by Niagara Falls police during a drug raid Sept. 28, 2016.

The maximum sentences for the two charges total 11 years in prison, but Murphy agreed to sentence Lewis to no more than four years, a deal worked out by Assistant District Attorney Peter M. Wydysh and defense attorney Robert Viola.

Lewis, who appeared in court leaning on a cane, said the only medication he is receiving in jail in the wake of the surgery for a gunshot wound to the abdomen was Tylenol. He said if he makes bail he intends to live with his mother on Elm Court in Niagara Falls.

Murphy ordered Lewis not to move to any other address and ordered him to obey an 11 p.m. curfew.

Lewis, who has been to state prison twice before on drug felonies, was the target of a search warrant carried out by the county Drug Task Force with help from Niagara Falls police at 488 20th St. about 8 p.m. Sept. 28.

The officers had to batter down the front door, because someone inside closed a steel door behind the regular screen door. Through a window, officers said they saw Lewis running upstairs carrying what appeared to be a weapon. After the shooting, an FEG semiautomatic rifle, which police called a Hungarian-made version of an AK-47 assault rifle, was found on the second floor.

The first officer to enter the house, Thomas Rodgers, saw Lewis partially concealed behind a protrusion in the first-floor hallway, according to authorities. Lewis' face was visible but not his hands.

Although Lewis' family contended he was shot with his hands up, the police said Lewis refused to put his hands up and may have had a weapon in his hands as he stepped out from behind the protrusion. Rodgers shot Lewis once in the abdomen, and a box cutter with an open blade was found on the floor beside the fallen Lewis.

Deputy District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann said Tuesday that she hopes to present evidence in the shooting by Rodgers to a grand jury this month. She declined further comment.

"The plea of guilty to a weapons charge certainly corroborates the accounts of the officers at the scene," Niagara Falls Police Superintendent E. Bryan DalPorto said. "There's still an internal investigation going on, so I can't comment much more."

He said Rodgers remains on paid administrative leave and probably will stay on leave until the grand jury makes a ruling.

The search of the house turned up four 1-ounce bags of crack cocaine in the pockets of a jacket believed to belong to Lewis, found in the second-floor bedroom with the assault rifle. Elsewhere in the house, more crack was found in the kitchen and basement, along with two bags of heroin, a package of unidentified pills, two pit bulls - an adult dog and a puppy - and $2,099 in cash, which Lewis agreed to forfeit.

A second person found in the residence was not charged.

Lewis claimed at his arraignment that he lived on Linwood Avenue, not 20th Street, but police disagreed, saying they found mail addressed to Lewis at 488 20th St.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com

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