San Francisco County Deputy Michael R. Lewelling was arrested Friday for allegedly assaulting a hospital patient and later filing a false report against the man, local media reports said. The arrest reportedly came after almost six weeks of investigation into the incident that occurred early November.
The 33-year-old sheriff’s deputy allegedly choked the man at San Francisco General Hospital and later arrested him claiming that the patient attempted to assault him with his wooden cane, prosecutors reportedly said. Lewelling was charged with perjury, filing a false police report, filing a false instrument and assault under the color of authority and misdemeanor battery, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, according to a local report. The bail for Lewelling is reportedly set at $138,000.
Lewelling had reportedly arrested the victim on suspicion of felony and misdemeanor charges, but officials at the district attorney’s office declined the charge against the man and asked for video evidence.
The video evidence, which was presented Friday, “depict(s) the victim hunched over in a chair sleeping in the Emergency Room’s waiting area, awaiting a doctor’s appointment later that day. Deputy Lewelling approaches the victim as he is starting to wake up. He subsequently appears to engage in a conversation with the victim, at which point the victim slowly stands up, using a cane for assistance,” Gascon said, according to Kron4, a local news outlet.
“Once up, he attempts to take a step towards the exit. While the victim is attempting to walk away, the defendant grabs the back of his collar, pulling him back into the seat and knocking his cane away. The victim never raised his cane in a threatening manner. A few seconds later, he appears to grab the victim’s throat and begins to choke him. The battery continued, and the victim was then placed under arrest.”
Prosecutors reportedly said that the arrest warrant against Lewelling was issued after the surveillance tape was seen. A court date for Lewelling is yet to be set.
“The fact that a Sheriff’s Deputy allegedly battered a patient at San Francisco General Hospital is unnerving,” Gascon reportedly said in a statement. “What’s worse is that he’s also alleged to have perjured himself on a police report, unforgivable conduct that led to the arrest of the innocent victim.”