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CONFLICTING VIEWS // WHAT POLICE OFFICERS AND OTHER WITNESSES TOLD INVESTIGATORS // Passenger contradicts police and even himself

TyRon Lewis and Eugene Young were on their way to buy hot crabs when they were pulled over by two police officers. Lewis was determined not to be arrested, Young told investigators later, but he didn't want to be shot either.

"He was yelling, yelling, telling the officer that he didn't have nothing, please don't shoot," Young said.

Fifty-five seconds later, Lewis was dead, shot three times by Officer James Knight.

Following a grand jury finding Wednesday that Knight was justified in shooting Lewis on Oct. 24, the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department released sworn statements their investigators collected from various witnesses.

Four separate and somewhat contradictory statements came from Young himself, who initially gave police a false name.

An autopsy found Lewis had been smoking marijuana recently, and he had six rocks of crack cocaine in his pocket. But Young said he knew nothing about that, or that the Pontiac LeMans that Lewis was driving had been sold to him in exchange for crack, but later reported missing.

Young said they were going about 45 mph, not the 70 mph the officers said. They stopped at a traffic light and the officers pulled up behind, but did not turn on their lights, he said.

In some versions, Young said Knight approached the car with his gun out, but in others he said Knight did not draw his weapon until later. Young said Lewis told him to lock the car because he had an outstanding warrant and did not want to go to jail, but several times said Lewis unlocked the doors before he was shot.

Young said Lewis paused the tape playing on the boombox on the car seat between them so they could hear Knight repeatedly telling them to get out of the car. Young said Officer Sandra Minor walked all the way around the car, then went back to the police cruiser to call for backup, leaving Knight in front of the LeMans.

Young said Lewis had one foot on the brake and another on the gas, and began making the car "jerk up." He said he told Lewis to stop, but Lewis replied: "F--- that s---, man, f--- that s---."

In two of his statements, Young said Lewis definitely was trying to run over Knight with the car.

"I saw it in his eyes," Young said, at one point saying Lewis was "panicking." But in two other statements he said Lewis was just trying to flee the scene, not kill or injure the officer.

Young also told different stories about whether Knight opened fire before or after Minor smashed the car window with her baton.

He said after the first two bullets hit him, Lewis told him he was shot. Those were apparently his last words.

Prosecutors interviewed more than 30 other witnesses who were near the intersection when the confrontation unfolded. There was broad agreement with key points of the grand jury's narrative, but on other points witnesses gave conflicting statements.

Almost all the witnesses placed Minor by the driver's side of the Pontiac, pounding on a window with her baton, and Knight in front of the car with his handgun drawn. Both officers were yelling at the car's occupants to get out, witnesses said.

As the Pontiac moved slowly forward, witnesses said, Knight backed up while yelling warnings:

"Stop the car and get out or I will shoot you," Ibraham Jaber said he heard Knight scream.

"Switch off the car and get out. I don't want to kill you," recalled William James.

The grand jury concluded that Knight was lying on the hood of the car when he fired three shots. Several witnesses saw Knight put his hand on the Pontiac's hood, but only two agreed with his statement that he was on the hood when he fired.

"The officer was pretty much on the car," Dante Barbery said.

Though both Knight and Minor deny it, four witnesses reported that Minor yelled, "Shoot," just before Knight fired.

Witnesses vary on the number of shots, from two to five.

Several witnesses said Young and Lewis both had their hands up, although several other witnesses said Lewis dropped his right hand or both hands and put them on the steering wheel before Knight fired.

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