Officer Killed in the Line of Duty
End of Watch: October 6, 1995
Rank: Officer No. ___
Years of Service: 2
Location of Death: 1400 Block of H Street, NE
Officer Lewis was shot on the 1400 block of H Street, NE after he stopped to help a deaf motorist. Officer Lewis succumbed to the gunshot sustained three days later.
He and his partner were assisting a motorist in front of 1370 H Street, NE, when a man walked up and opened fire on them for no reason, striking Officer Lewis in the head. His partner was able to return fire and killed the subject. Officer Lewis had served with the Metropolitan Police Department for two years and was assigned to the 5th District.
Officer Lewis had been with the Metropolitan Police Department for two years. Lewis lived with his mother in Bowie, MD, where he was a volunteer firefighter.
Articles from the Washington Post – transcribed by Dave Richardson, MPD/Ret.
THE SHOOTING DEATH OF OFFICER SCOTT S. LEWIS ON OCTOBER 6, 1995.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 7, 1995, PAGE B1
D.C. Officer Shot in Head; Gunman Killed; Partner Slays Suspect After Attack in NE
A D.C. police officer was critically wounded yesterday morning on H Street NE, and authorities said the man who shot the officer without provocation was killed by the officer’s partner.
The shooting was the second unprovoked attack against a uniformed D.C. officer in three weeks.
Yesterday, colleagues, friends and relatives of Officer Scott S. Lewis, 28, of Bowie, gathered at D.C. General Hospital, where the two-year member of the force was in the intensive care unit with a gunshot wound in the left side of his head. Last night, he was in critical condition.
D.C. Mayor Marion Barry said the shooting appeared to be “wild and crazy” and underscored the dangers of police work. “It seems there is a mood where some people out here have no regard for what the consequences are,” he said.
Police have identified the gunman as Melvin Darnell Pate, 30, whose most recent address was in the 1200 block of Penn Street NE. According to police, Pate got out of his car about 2:30 a.m. in the 1300 block of H Street NE and walked up to Lewis and his partner, Keith DeVille. The officers were waiting for an interpreter to arrive to help them with a deaf and mute man who had indicated that he needed help.
A police official said Pate walked up to the officers and said, “Do you know this man is deaf” and then pulled out a gun and shot Lewis? Others said Pate said nothing before shooting Lewis.
Interim Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby said Lewis was shot in the head at point-blank range. Pate fired at DeVille but missed, police said. They said DeVille fired back, killing Pate, and radioed for help, saying, “Officer down.”
The deaf man, whose identity was not released, was not struck by gunfire. However, backup officers initially believed he was involved in the shooting, Soulsby said. The arriving officers saw a police officer on the ground, with his partner beside him, another man on the ground and the deaf man near them, crying loudly, the chief said. The deaf man suffered minor injuries when officers restrained him and was treated at D.C. General Hospital, Soulsby said.
Soulsby said he met with the deaf man. “I apologized to him, and I tried to explain why and how this occurred. I think he understood,” he said.
The block where the shootings took place is near Hechinger Mall and is lined with turn-of-the-century commercial buildings, many vacant. Yesterday, dried blood and bits of yellow crime scene tape marked the sidewalk and street in front of 1370 H St. NE, a two-story brick building with plywood across the front.
Residents and business owners said that part of H Street is usually busy in the early morning because of a bus stop at the corner and a nearby after-hours nightclub.
Yesterday, DeVille declined to talk about the shooting but said he and Lewis had been partners for a couple of months working the “power shift,” a four-day, 10-hour-a-day schedule designed to put officers in the worst crime areas of the 5th District during the evening hours.
DeVille, 31, an officer for five years, said Lewis takes his job seriously but has a sense of humor.
“Scott let the situation dictate his response,” he said. “He can banter with people, even with suspects.”
DeVille said they spent some time off duty together. Lewis likes to play golf and visit Ocean City, Md., where he was an officer in 1991 and 1992. DeVille said that Lewis’s father is dead and that the officer lives with his mother in Bowie.
In the earlier unprovoked shooting, Officer Gerald Anderson, 38, was shot at 3:45 a.m. Sept. 16 as he was returning to his cruiser after getting a cup of coffee from a store in the 2700 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE. Police said a man walked up to Anderson and shot him in the neck. Anderson, an eight-year officer assigned to the 7th District, was treated for minor wounds. The gunman got away, police said.
Soulsby said authorities worked yesterday to determine whether the two attacks were related. He said that the weapons used in both instances were similar but that police later ruled that different guns were used.
Pate had been arrested at least six times since 1984 by D.C. police, according to records at D.C. Superior Court, with convictions for drug, theft and property crimes.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 10, 1995, PAGE B1
D.C. Officer Dies After Being Shot on Duty; Comrades Gather to Mourn `Death in Police Family
Three dozen D.C. police officers gathered outside D.C. General Hospital in the brilliant sunshine yesterday morning, their collective mood in somber contrast to the crisp and glorious weather.
Some of them wore jeans and T-shirts; some were in full uniform. But all the officers were expecting the worst.
The bad news came shortly after noon, when medical personnel disconnected Officer Scott S. Lewis from a life-support system. Lewis, who had been shot in the head while on patrol early Friday, was pronounced dead within minutes, officials said. Some of the officers quietly wept and embraced. Others just stood silently as they thought about their fallen comrade.
Lewis, 28, a two-year member of the force, became the second D.C. police officer slain in the line of duty this year, the third since December 1993.
Co-workers described Lewis as a hard worker with a great sense of humor.
“He had old-school toughness. But he hated to see people down,” said Officer Rick Kager. “When he saw someone down, he would pick up their spirits by making them laugh. If he hadn’t made it as a cop, he could have been a comedian.”
Lewis lived with his mother in Bowie, where he was a volunteer firefighter. On Saturday, Prince George’s County firefighters will dedicate a new fire engine in Lewis’s name, said Pete Piringer, a spokesman for the department.
Funeral arrangements were not available last night.
The attack on Lewis was unprovoked, as were attacks on seven other law enforcement officers in the last 11 months, officials said. Four of the eight officers were killed.
“Obviously, we will have to review and see if we can make any sense of these attacks,” said Interim Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby, who joined the officers at the hospital yesterday. “This is a death in the police family, and to have it occur in such a senseless way is tragic.”
About 2:30 a.m. Friday, Lewis and his partner, Officer Keith DeVille, both assigned to the 5th District, were on patrol in a marked squad car when a male motorist pulled up beside them in the 1300 block of H Street NE and gestured to the officers that he needed help, investigators said.
Lewis, DeVille and the motorist — who is deaf and mute — got out of their cars, detectives said. The officers radioed for an interpreter. (It turned out that the man wanted to report that his house had been burglarized, investigators said.)
At that point, Melvin Darnell Pate, 30, pulled up in his Honda Accord. DeVille later told investigators that Pate asked Lewis whether he knew the man was deaf. DeVille told investigators that Lewis responded yes and asked Pate whether he knew what the problem was.
Pate said no, DeVille told investigators, then stopped his car, got out, walked up to Lewis, pulled out a gun and shot him in the head at point-blank range.
According to one police source, Pate then bent down and took Lewis’s service weapon and began to run to his car, but DeVille fatally shot him before he could escape. Two police sources said officers found cash and crack cocaine in Pate’s Honda.
The motive remains unclear, police said. Detectives thus far have found nothing to connect Pate to the deaf motorist or to suggest that Pate had ever been arrested by Lewis. But some of Pate’s relatives and friends said Pate, whom they called Darnell, had been depressed because of the recent shooting death of one relative and the incarceration of another one.
Detectives were investigating a report that Pate had become agitated in a federal courtroom a few hours before the attack. Pate reportedly was in the courtroom for a hearing involving a younger brother who faces a felony drug distribution charge. Pate was upset about the recent jailing of his brother, a friend said.
Five days before Pate shot Lewis, Pate’s cousin, Darrell Pate, 17, was fatally shot in the 1300 block of Trinidad Street NE. On Saturday, the Pate family buried Darrell Pate.
Darnell Pate’s older brother, Anthony, was fatally shot in October 1987. And one week before the shooting of Lewis, friends said, Darnell Pate was upset after his son, who is 8 or 9 years old, was nearly hit by a stray bullet as he played in the ground floor hallway of his grandmother’s apartment building.
“I know he was in a depressed state,” said Russell Spencer, who has known the family for about three years. He said he saw Pate several times the week after his cousin’s death. “He seemed to be sad, hurt and in a lot of pain.”
“I also think he felt he had let his brother down,” Spencer said.
David Pate, Darnell’s uncle, said the two recent deaths had been “rough on the family,” which has been touched by violence more than once before. David Pate said that one of his own brothers was killed about four years ago.
Despite their grief, however, David Pate said his family still has questions about the incident that left a police officer and his nephew dead.
“I don’t believe Darnell killed that policeman,” he said. “He wasn’t that type of person.”
Spencer and Mike Terrell, another friend of Darnell’s, said they also had questions about the incident.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 12, 1995, PAGE B3
D.C. Reviews Ambulance Crew Action; Patient Was Left Behind To Make Room for Officer
D.C. Fire Department officials are reviewing why two emergency medical technicians who saw the shooting of a D.C. police officer last week left behind the non-emergency patient they were carrying in the ambulance and instead took the officer to the hospital.
“Any time you start with one patient, pick up another one and don’t end up transporting the original patient, you have to explain what you did,” said Battalion Chief Alvin Carter, a department spokesman. “It is against protocol.”
The two technicians made a split-second decision that some firefighters and ambulance personnel say extended the officer’s life. The officer, Scott S. Lewis, was shot in the head at point-blank range Friday in the 1300 block of H Street NE. He died Monday.
“My hat is off to those people in taking initiative in trying to save that man’s life,” said one firefighter, who requested anonymity. “They did what they believed was right.”
The two technicians were on the way to D.C. General Hospital after picking up a 38-year-old woman at the Trailways bus station when they saw the shooting on H Street. Although the exact condition of the woman could not be determined last night, she was in “an altered mental condition,” fire officials said, and considered a low priority. “She was walking and talking,” Carter said.
According to department policy, patients with non-life-threatening injuries do not require treatment by a physician within 24 hours. The woman’s status was considered “Code 4,” the department’s lowest priority. The medical technicians, after seeing the shooting, removed the woman from the back of the ambulance and left her standing at the scene with a technician from Engine Company 10 and called for another ambulance to help her, fire officials said. She later was taken to the hospital.
One of the two technicians involved in the incident declined to comment last night.
Some firefighters and ambulance personnel said the technicians should not be punished for choosing to help the critically wounded officer.
“You must react in a situation like that,” said one ambulance bureau supervisor, who asked not to be named. “They did what they thought was emotionally and procedurally correct, and you can’t fault anyone for following those instincts.”
Fire officials said it would have taken an additional five to six more minutes for another ambulance to arrive and for its crew to start treating Lewis. According to department records, the wounded officer was at the hospital three minutes after the shooting occurred.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 14, 1995, PAGE C3
Slain District Officer Is Laid to Rest; 1,500 Mourners Pay Last Respects to Scott Shaffer Lewis, Who Was Shot in Head in NE
Only the soft slapping of the leather shoes of the pallbearers broke the silence as more than 1,000 police officers stood at attention yesterday while the body of their slain colleague, Scott Shaffer Lewis, was carried from Washington National Cathedral. As the flag-draped coffin passed, the color guard lowered the flags and officers saluted.
A week earlier, Lewis, 28, a two-year member of the D.C. police department, was shot in the head apparently without reason by a man who approached him and his partner as they stood in the 1300 block of H Street NE. The man was then shot and killed by Lewis’s partner.
Lewis was in critical condition for three days until he died Monday at D.C. General Hospital.
At the 90-minute funeral service, Inspector Claude J. Beheler, Lewis’s commander, spoke of the anguish police feel when one of their own “is brutally taken from us” as he looked at officers in blue, gray and brown uniforms representing dozens of area law enforcement forces.
“He relished contact with citizens,” Beheler said of Lewis. “He did not relish confrontation. He would joke and diffuse a situation. On Friday, Oct. 6, he was not given a chance to use his talents to reason or explain. Raw violence, in the form of a man who only knew he was shooting a policeman, took his life.”
Beheler told the 1,500 mourners who sat beneath the vaulted ceiling of the cathedral that there was no way to explain Lewis’s death. “He was shot down without reason or warning,” he said.
Beheler quoted from a letter he had received from a woman who lives in the same block where Lewis was shot. “I am so sorry the officer was shot. . . . It is sad day when an officer is attacked on the street. Please let the officer know if he doesn’t have the support of the community, he has mine.”
Interim Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby spoke briefly, calling on officers to live up to the high standard set by Lewis, who also worked as a volunteer firefighter in Bowie, where he was born.
Before the service, Soulsby noted the strength demonstrated by Lewis’s mother, Arlene Lewis. He said the retired nurse understood how serious her son’s injuries were and was at his bedside when the life support system was disconnected.
“After he had died, she removed the tubes and other stuff and then bathed her son,” Soulsby said. “All the time, she was talking and singing to her son. Officers were falling over like flies.”
D.C. police Officer Daranette Bennett visited Arlene Lewis at her home Monday. “She welcomed me into her home,” Bennett said. “People of all color came there, and she welcomed every one of us.”
Bennett, 28, said she found a message in Lewis’s death. “We all should love each other, all officers if black or white or Hispanic. It took a death for us to come together.”
Then Bennett and others joined a long motorcade of firetrucks, ambulances and cruisers that escorted the hearse from the cathedral in upper Northwest Washington across town to the 5th District building on Bladensburg Road NE, where Lewis was assigned. En route, at 11th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW, construction workers paused and took off their helmets, pedestrians stopped and motorists got out of their cars and watched silently.
At the 5th District, Lewis’s scout car — No. 165 — was bedecked in a black mourning sash and ribbons, as was the building. The sashes and a half-staff flag billowed in a warm breeze. Several dozen D.C. police officers waited outside the station for the funeral procession to pass on its way to Lakemont Memorial Gardens in Davidsonville.
Shortly after 1 p.m., the silver hearse carrying Lewis’s coffin pulled up to the police station. His mother and sister, Stacey Lewis, stepped out of their white limousine and were escorted up the walk to Lewis’s police cruiser.
Lewis’s mother greeted the 45-member honor guard of D.C. police officers and her son’s other co-workers. She grasped each extended hand, exchanged whispered greetings and embraced several people.
“I thanked them, and I hugged them. And I love them,” said Arlene Lewis, as she walked back to the waiting limousine.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 14, 1995, PAGE A22
Another Death in the Police Family
FOR THE THIRD time since December 1993, a member of the Metropolitan Police Department has been struck down in the line of duty. This time the slain officer was Scott S. Lewis, a two-year member of the force assigned to the 5th District in Northeast Washington. His shooting reportedly was unprovoked — the seventh such attack on law enforcement officers in the last 11 months and the second against uniformed officers in three weeks. Once again, the blue line separating the law-abiding from the predators has been breached. But now it’s even worse because it was a police officer and someone of Scott Lewis’s toughness and courage who went down.
Interim Police Chief Larry Soulsby said Officer Lewis’s death occurred “in such a senseless way.” That would appear to be the case. Officer Lewis and his partner, Keith DeVille, were working the “power shift,” or the evening hours, in a marked car in one of the worst crime areas of the 5th District. A male motorist who was deaf and mute pulled up beside them and signaled he needed help. While the officers waited for the arrival of an interpreter to assist them, another motorist, Melvin Darnell Pate, pulled up and asked if they knew the man was deaf. After a brief exchange about the man’s impairment, Mr. Pate allegedly left his car, walked up to Officer Lewis and shot him in the head at point-blank range. Mr. Pate, who reportedly had a criminal record, was then fatally shot by Officer Lewis’s partner before he could escape. Mr. Pate’s motives apparently remain unclear. Referring to this and the rash of other cases of police being shot on duty, Chief Soulsby said the department wants to “see if we can make any sense of these attacks.” So does the public.
Too many good lives are being sacrificed to violence in this city. When it is the life of a police officer that is taken away, the loss has other implications. To be sure, the family will mourn the death, and fellow officers will grieve the loss of a fallen comrade. But an unprovoked attack on a police officer is an attack on the maintenance of law and, in its way, an attack on the community itself. It is a chilling thing that is happening too frequently in this city.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED OCTOBER 26, 1995, PAGE B3
Delivering a Son’s Last Gift; Slain D.C. Officer’s Colleagues Give Mother a Surprise Birthday Party
He knew that his mother, Arlene, liked the tan suede winter coat she had seen in a department store, so D.C. police officer Scott S. Lewis put it on layaway during the summer. He never got the chance to give it to her. Earlier this month, Lewis was gunned down while on duty.
Yesterday, Lewis’s fellow officers surprised Arlene Lewis with a birthday party and several gifts — the last of which was the tan suede coat. She smiled when she opened the box.
Lewis had not planned to celebrate her 66th birthday. That changed when she walked into a meeting room in the 5th Police District headquarters, where her son had been assigned. She was brought there on the pretense of meeting with representatives of a police fraternal organization.
“Happy birthday!” cried three dozen police officers, D.C. Council member Harry Thomas Sr. (D-Ward 5) and several other well-wishers.
What followed was a bittersweet celebration that included the screening of a videotape produced by 5th District officers. The videotape was a montage of television coverage of Scott Lewis’s shooting Oct. 6, his death Oct. 9 and his funeral, spliced with home-video footage of the officer and set to the music of the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin.”
Officers then gave Arlene Lewis flowers and gifts: Two porcelain cookie jars — one shaped and painted like a police car, the other like a fire truck (Scott Lewis also was a volunteer firefighter in Prince George’s County) — and a silk scarf.
Inspector Claude Beheler, commander of the 5th District, gave her a large wood and glass case containing memorabilia: her son’s police badge, No. 3581; the American flag that was draped over his coffin; shell casings from the 21-gun salute given in honor of the fallen officer.
“It was great,” Arlene Lewis said of the party, organized by Sgt. Dale Sutherland and other officers who worked with Scott Lewis.
Lewis was shot in the head early on the morning of Oct. 6 by Melvin Darnell Pate, 30, a Northeast Washington man with a long record of narcotics-related arrests, police said.
Lewis and his partner, Officer Keith DeVille, were on patrol in their marked cruiser when they stopped near 14th and H streets NE for a motorist who had gestured that he needed help. The officers and the motorist — who could neither hear nor speak — got out of their cars. The man wanted to report that his house had been burglarized.
At that point, Pate pulled up in his car and asked Lewis if he knew that the motorist was deaf, detectives said. Pate then left his car, walked up to Lewis and shot him in the head at point-blank range, investigators said. Pate took Lewis’s service weapon and tried to run away, but DeVille fatally shot him, detective’s said. Cash and crack cocaine were found in Pate’s car, they said.
Lewis died in the hospital three days later. He was the fourth D.C. police officer killed in the line of duty since December 1993 and the eighth area law enforcement officer shot in an unprovoked attack in the last 11 months.
Before yesterday’s surprise party, Arlene Lewis spoke at a police rally in front of the Municipal Building, which serves as police headquarters. She spoke in favor of a proposal by Rep. Frederick K. Heineman (R-N.C.) to give the police department $41 million, restoring the 4.5 percent pay cut that rank-and-file officers absorbed this year.
WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE DATED JUNE 20, 1996, PAGE J3
Honoring Hometown Heroes; Chamber Recognizes Police, Fire and Corrections Employees for Bravery
Jimmy Hobbs was drenched to the skin, water dripping from the cuffs of his Department of Corrections wool uniform dress pants, when his mother and father opened the door to greet him.
“Mama, I just saved a little girl’s life,” Hobbs’s mother recalled him saying.
Hobbs was among 19 people honored last week — two posthumously — with the D.C. Chamber of Commerce’s annual Meritorious Service Awards. The honors first were bestowed in 1929 “to recognize acts of extraordinary or unusual heroism” by members of the District’s police, fire and corrections departments. This year’s medals were presented by Mayor Marion Barry (D), Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby, Fire Chief Otis J. Latin Sr. and Corrections Director Margaret A. Moore.
Hobbs’s parents, wife and baby son were at his side as Barry slipped a gold Medal of Valor around his neck. Later, Hobbs recounted the events that led to the award.
Hobbs occasionally drops by his parents’ home for lunch, he said, because they live near the District’s Lorton Correctional Complex in Fairfax County, where Hobbs works as a corrections officer.
But he had not planned to visit them Oct. 15. He does not remember how he came to be driving past a duck pond in his parents’ neighborhood on his lunch break or why he noticed a child’s hand break the surface of the water.
“I was being led by the Lord to be there,” he said. “I wasn’t acting by myself. I had no intentions of going to my mom’s house for lunch that day.”
Hobbs saw the little girl’s hand disappear beneath the water. Then stillness.
“The first thing that came to mind was, `I can swim,’ ” Hobbs said.
And swim he did — shoes, radio, tie, wallet, keys and all.
The child had gone under, Hobbs said, and he frantically searched the water for her. “I went under, and I felt her leg and pulled it to me as far as I could, and that’s when I pulled her and held her up. But she was out of it. I looked at her to see if she was unconscious, because I thought: ” `Dag, I have to do CPR. I looked to see if she was breathing.’ ”
But Hobbs didn’t have to resuscitate the child, who coughed up water and opened her eyes soon after the two reached shore.
And so Hobbs handed her to her father, with the words: “She’s going to be okay.”
Just for good measure, Hobbs visited the child’s house that evening. “When I got there she was home, walking around.”
Other honorees were: Police Capt. Ross E. Swope, who locked his leg around the guard railing of the John Philip Sousa Bridge and struggled with a suicidal man for five minutes to stop him from plummeting to his death in the river 44 feet below.
Police officers Scott S. Lewis and Keith DeVille, recognized for “courage and conviction under fire” in a street attack by a man in October. Arlene Lewis accepted the award for her son, who died in the incident.
Police officers Dane Snapko and Joseph Welsh, who leapt into the Washington Channel in March, in a futile attempt to save a freelance photographer who fell from a cruise ship during Barry’s 60th birthday celebration.
Police detectives Lani Jackson-Pinckney and Lajuan Lynch, recognized “for quick action and bravery” at the scene of an attempted carjacking in December. Pinckney — four months pregnant at the time — was accidentally shot in the scuffle by a fellow police officer and remains partially paralyzed.
Police Officer James McGee, who was shot to death in February by a fellow police officer who mistook him for an armed robber. McGee, who was off-duty, had stopped his car to help a cabdriver who was struggling with two assailants. Officer McGee’s father, James McGee Sr., accepted the award.
Firefighters George W. Davis III and Lt. Allen J. Winterwerp, who saved a child from a closet in a burning house in Northeast Washington in February.
Firefighter Craig W. Duck, who searched a burning building in August and carried an unconscious woman from the building.
Corrections officers Glenwood Greene and Dennis J. Best; senior correctional officers Darryl L. Robinson, Clarence Carter and Eric A. Folson; and supervisory correctional officers William A. Diaz and Maury G. Jones, recognized for bravery and quick, decisive action during crisis situations.