Man Says He Was Beaten, Left For Dead By OKCPD Officers On Illinois River

Thursday, August 8th 2013, 10:10 pm
By: Tess Maune

A Green Country man says he was beaten and left for dead by two off-duty police officers. It happened on the Illinois River in Tahlequah on Saturday.

Now, the victim and his girlfriend are telling their story to News On 6.

The couple said the beating stemmed from an argument the two were having over lunch meat.

The swelling on Yohawna Lewis's face has gone down, but he said the pain is as strong as ever.

"Unbelievably bad, I wouldn't wish this on anyone," Lewis said.

Lewis was on the Illinois river Saturday with his girlfriend, Amanda Belty, and her family.

Belty said the float trip was almost over when the group stopped on a beach to eat. She said Lewis forget to pack lunch.

"We had no food, and that was the stupid argument we were having," Belty said.

She said, as they were arguing, a group of three men stopped to intervene. Two of them were off-duty Oklahoma City police officers.

8/7/2013 Related Story: Two OKCPD Officers Under Criminal Investigation

"They acted like he was about to hit me and he wasn't. I mean, we were arguing and that was that," Belty said.

Lewis said one of the men confronted him, "aggressively started pushing me around, telling me he was a cop and that I was going to do what he said."

He said one of the men put him in a choke hold while another kicked him.

Lewis said the men charged him as he asked for names and badge numbers.

"Not a single time did I raise my hand to any of them gentlemen."

"They jumped on me," Lewis said. "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.

The three men told rangers Lewis followed them and taunted them.

Reporter Tess Maune: "They said that you were threatening them and calling out racial slurs. Was any of that happening?"
Yohawna Lewis: "I was pretty mad, 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."

Lewis said he was on the verge of death, but a single thought pulled him through.

"My only thoughts were just trying to withstand it, stay alive so I'd see my family," Lewis said.

The two told rangers in the area, but the men were not arrested.

The Oklahoma City Police Department said the two officers have been placed on administrative leave.

The Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, which is investigating the case, hopes to turn its investigation over to the Cherokee County DA soon.