Video shows Perkins Township police arresting wrong robbery suspects

PERKINS TOWNSHIP - The Fox 8 I-Team obtained video showing a chaotic scene after a robbery.
Now investigators are trying to sort out not only what happened during the crime but what happened next.

The armed robbery took place around 5:20 Thursday afternoon at the Convenient Food Mart on East Perkins Avenue. The victim called 9-1-1 and told a dispatcher the suspect was white and wearing a black hoodie. When officers arrived the victim said the suspect may have "brown skin."

Perkins Township police began searching in the area, and one officer spotted two African American men. One had a black hoodie. The men were walking into an apartment building and the officer followed with his gun drawn.

"The officer was looking for an armed robbery suspect so it makes sense he would have his gun out," said Assistant Chief Vince Donald.

The men, Sylvester Lewis, 24, and Kalvin Wickliffe, 25, say they were shocked when they saw the officer.

"I just got off work and Kalvin and I just came home and were talking about what we were going to do that night," Lewis said.

He noted they saw the officer as they were walking into the building, and didn't understand why he came inside the building with his gun out.

"Am I being detained?" Wickliffe can be heard asking on the Perkins Township officer's body camera video. The officer tells him yes and says they are investigating an armed robbery.

When the officer tried to handcuff Lewis he told them not to touch him.

"I didn't do anything, I just got home from work, I wanted to go to my girlfriend's and have a beer and then this officer is talking about an armed robbery, I was scared," Lewis said.

Several officers fought with Lewis and tasered him.

Teegan Shumate, who lives in the apartment building videotaped the arrest.

"I just think they used way more force than was needed," Shumate said. "I never saw anything like this before."

Shortly after Lewis was arrested, police learned he was not the suspect.

"Why were they bothering with two African-American men when a white male robbed the store," Lewis said he believes they were targeted because of their race.

Police disagree.

"We were investigating an armed robbery, we had a description, we don't know, our job is to check and find out," Donald said. He added if the men would have followed the officers' orders the situation would not have escalated.

The robber has not been arrested.

Lewis and Wickliffe face misdemeanor charges. Lewis faces charges several charges including resisting arrest, Wickliffe faces a charge of disorderly conduct. Both men are due in court later this week.

"We are going to fight these charges and clear our names," Lewis said.

Erie County Sheriff's Office and Sandusky police assisted Perkins Township in the case. Officials with all three departments say since the force was used they are conducting internal reviews to make sure officers followed proper procedures.

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