Dallas chief admits 'error' after officer's alleged assault on wife

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by TANYA EISERER / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on February 25, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 25 at 9:48 AM

Starr Lewis' hands tremble as she talks. She says the abuse started early on in her marriage to Dallas police Senior Cpl. Kristoffer Lewis.

“It was all of it — verbal, physical... everything,” she told News 8 in an exclusive interview.

More than two years ago, Kristoffer Lewis was charged with misdemeanor assault and violation of a protective order. Internal investigators sustained the allegations against him.

Lewis has not been disciplined, and remains on restricted duty at the police auto pound. His attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Starr Lewis, who is divorcing her husband for the second time, says she is frustrated by the Dallas Police Department's lack of action.

“They’ve fired other police officers for pending cases. Why can’t they fire him?” she asked.

News 8 asked Police Chief David Brown about the Kristoffer Lewis situation and why no action had been taken.

"We made a mistake,” the chief replied in an e-mail. “We should have scheduled this case for a disciplinary hearing sooner. There is no excuse, and we regret our error.”

Last year, Chief Brown fired 21 officers; two of them were terminated in December after they were charged with family violence-related crimes.

In firing the two officers, Brown told them that he had no choice because of the pending criminal cases against them, according to audio recordings obtained by News 8.

It’s not clear how Kristoffer Lewis’ case fell through the cracks, but internal affairs documents, police reports and court records reveal that he and his estranged wife have had on-again, off-again relationship since first marrying in 2000.

In 2001, Starr Lewis called the police, saying her husband had put a gun to his head during an argument. Kristoffer Lewis was taken into hospital for a mental evaluation, records show.

He denied threatening to harm himself... or anyone else.

“Because of things that were said, I became very upset,” he wrote in an internal affairs statement. “I went into the bedroom and got my backup weapon. As I was getting my gun, my wife walked into the bedroom. I told her to get out and leave me alone.”

Kristoffer Lewis received a five-day suspension over the incident.

In 2003, Garland police officers were again called to the Lewis' home. He told investigators that she slapped him in the face. She told police that he grabbed her and shoved her into a chair.

Authorities arrested Starr Lewis because he was the one with a visible injury. She was issued a citation — the equivalent of a traffic ticket. She denied hitting him, saying he must have hit himself.

Kristoffer Lewis denied shoving Starr into a chair, saying their feet got tangled during the confrontation and it caused her to fall into the chair.

He denied injuring himself, records show.

The assault charge against Starr Lewis was dropped after her husband declined to press charges.

The couple divorced in 2003. They reconciled in 2004, but split up again in 2006, records show.

In 2007, Kristoffer Lewis received a one-day suspension as a result of an incident with her father, then-Dallas police Senior Cpl. Gary O’Pry.

O’Pry and his wife had gone to their former son-in-law’s Rowlett home to pick up their young granddaughter in November 2006. O’Pry told investigators that his granddaughter was crying and upset. He said Kristoffer Lewis began calling he and his wife vulgar names.

O'Pry said Lewis kicked the vehicle door as he was getting into the truck, causing the door to strike O’Pry’s left shoulder.

Kristoffer Lewis was arrested on an assault charge. The charge was later dropped at O’Pry’s request.

Kristoffer Lewis acknowledged pushing the door with his foot, but said he was not trying to hurt O’Pry.

Kristoffer and Starr Lewis remarried in 2010. Just as before, it was not a happy relationship.

In October 2011, Rowlett police were called to the couple’s Rowlett home after she called the police.

“He shoved my head into the bathroom door frame,” Starr Lewis said. “I told him that I was going to call the police, and so that I was done with all this.”

She said their daughter, then 10 years old, was watching.

“He walked up behind me and put his arms around me and punched me in the back, and she saw that, and she just started screaming and crying,” Starr Lewis said.

Rowlett police arrested the Dallas officer that night. The officers documented swelling to her right forehead and a fist-sized bruise to her lower left back.

A judge issued a protective order.

Kristoffer Lewis later told Dallas police internal affairs investigators that she was the aggressor. He said she hit her own head against the door frame. He said he hit her in the back to keep her from grabbing their daughter. He did not recall whether he used a closed fist.

According to police records, Kristoffer Lewis began sending text messages to his estranged wife:

“You are not going to get your wish just now. I’m not going to kill myself, not yet at least,” one message said.

And this one: “Tomorrow I am going to have my lawyer talk to the DA and enter a guilty plea. I did hit you in the back. Even though I didn’t do any of the rest, I should never have done that. I will also be resigning from DPD Monday morning.”

But he didn’t quit.

Police again arrested Kristoffer Lewis in December 2011 — this time saying he violated the protective order by sending threatening text messages.

In March 2012, internal investigators concluded Lewis was “involved in a domestic disturbance,” “failed to notify” his supervisors of a protective order, and “engaged in adverse conduct when he violated a protective order.”

His criminal cases were set for trial several times, but delayed at the request of the defense. Lewis was scheduled to plead guilty to reduced charges on two occasions, but backed out of the agreement, according to a spokeswoman for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

The cases have been set for trial early next month.

After News 8’s inquiry, the department has scheduled a disciplinary hearing for Kristoffer Lewis on Thursday. The chief also has ordered a review of all officers who are currently on administrative leave or restricted duty.

E-mail teiserer@wfaa.com

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