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Date of Issue: July 09, 2008

Attorney seeks dismissal in blown-kiss case

An attorney is asking for a dismissal of charges against a teenager arrested in connection with an alleged scuffle in April with a Bradenton Beach police officer on Coquina Beach.

The attorney for the youth alleges that the officer’s actions were “criminal and without probable cause.”

The scuffle occurred after a 14-year-old boy blew a kiss toward Officer Timothy Matthews on April 20. Matthews has since resigned as a reserve officer from the Bradenton Beach Police Department and taken a post with the Palmetto Police Department.

Two teenagers were arrested - Lance Lewis, 14, for felony battery and his sister, Veronica, 18, for battery on a law enforcement officer.

Tampa attorney Alex Hajaistron recently filed a motion seeking a dismissal of the case against Veronica Lewis. Records in the case against Lance Lewis, who is being treated as a juvenile, were not available.

A probable cause affidavit filed in the case by BBPD detailed law enforcement’s perspective. Matthews wrote that at about 2:12 p.m. he was driving his patrol car in the parking lot at Coquina Beach “and observed a white male (Lance Lewis) blow me a kiss. I asked him what his problem was and he said, ‘I don’t have a problem N…’ I asked why he would blow me a kiss and he said, ‘F… you.’ There were many young children in the area.”

Matthews reported that when he approached the boy, his “sister Veronica Lewis stepped between us. I told her to move and she pushed me and said, ‘I don’t want my brother arrested.’ I then pushed her out of my way and attempted to grab Lance Lewis and he pushed me away. I grabbed him in a headlock and he kicked me in the left leg. I then took him to the ground and handcuffed him. His sister was grabbing me, trying to pull me off, and I called for officers to assist.”

Hajaistron, in his motion, said that Matthews overreacted to the incident and harassed the teens.

“Upon observing a ‘kiss being blown at him,’ Officer Matthews exited his patrol unit, asked co-defendant Lance Lewis if he was retarded, verbally berated Lance and his defendant/sister, then started aggressively approaching both defendants.”

The attorney claimed that Veronica Lewis tried to protect her brother, who was wearing a cast on his arm.

“Officer Matthews pushed Veronica Lewis out of the way, placed his hands on the body of Lance Lewis, put the minor in a choke hold, flipped the child to the ground, straddled the upper torso of the juvenile, attempted to punch the child in the face where the officer missed and punched the concrete causing injury to his knuckles, then began choking the juvenile.”

Hajaistron went on to claim that Matthews’ actions were criminal, that he lacked probable cause to “confront the defendants nor does having a ‘kiss blown’ at Officer Matthews create a reasonable suspicion that the defendant or her brother were involved in criminal activity or that the defendants were armed and/or dangerous.”

A response to Hajaistron’s motion had not been filed at the courthouse by The Islander press time.

A status hearing in the case is scheduled for July 29 at the Manatee County Justice Center in Bradenton.