A consultant hired by the Spokane Police Department told people in the Davenport Tower Safari Lounge on Sunday that he was with the department, and repeatedly called a woman a “ho” during a confrontation, police documents say.
Paul Lewis, 51, a trainer with the Boston-based North American Family Institute, was in town to oversee the police department’s Youth and Police Initiative program that works to create relationships between police and at-risk youth.
According to newly released details contained in police reports, Lewis told witnesses and responding police officers that he was a personal friend of police Chief Frank Straub. At one point Lewis told an officer that once he talked to “Frank … it’s not going to look good for you.”
Lewis was in the bar when he spotted a woman he believed to be a prostitute. She was accompanied by her boyfriend and brother and Lewis accused the two of being her pimps. Witnesses said Lewis grabbed the woman’s boyfriend by the throat and her brother tried to intervene. Lewis then reportedly grabbed the woman’s brother by the throat and pushed him out of the bar and into the lobby. A bartender broke up the fight.
The woman’s brother told police that in addition to claiming he was with the SPD, Lewis used racial slurs during the confrontation. Lewis, the woman and the woman’s brother are all black.
The confrontation and Lewis’ claims of being with the police department caught the attention of people in the bar and lobby. A bystander approached one of the responding officers and “expressed his disappointment in our department” and said he wouldn’t be returning to Spokane, the officer wrote.
One of the officers who responded to the fight call had taken a YPI training class from Lewis and wrote in her report that she knew Lewis was a “close associate” of Straub’s. Straub signed agreements with the North American Family Institute to institute the YPI program when he was in White Plains, New York, and also in Indianapolis.
Lewis, who reportedly smelled of alcohol, told police he didn’t believe he had done anything wrong. He was agitated and believed he’d been treated badly and told an officer, “This would never happen in Boston,” the report says. He also accused an officer of singling him out because he was black. Lewis became upset when he was given a citation for fourth-degree assault, crumpled up the citation and tossed it away, according to police reports.
Lewis was asked to leave the hotel, but refused to go until he spoke to Straub, according to police reports. One of the officers used his cellphone to call Straub, who spoke to Lewis. Straub told the officer that Lewis could be taken to another hotel or to the airport, the police report says. Lewis chose to be taken to another local hotel. He reportedly left Spokane on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, police spokeswoman Monique Cotton said Straub told the officer not to give Lewis any special treatment. “He made it clear Lewis was to leave the hotel,” she said. “We treated this individual the same as any other individual.”
Lewis is no longer participating in the city’s YPI program, Cotton said.