The Detroit Free Press obtained the 20-minute long video of Tom Lewand's traffic stop from Friday night. Although we already basically know all of the details from the stop because the police report was released on Monday, it is interesting to watch what exactly went down, as it provides a different perspective and allows you to gather your own thoughts on the incident. You can watch the video and check out a bullet-by-bullet rundown of what it shows below.
- Lewand definitely had issues keep his vehicle under control. At the beginning of the video, he was weaving in and out of his lane quite a bit, which is why officers pulled him over.
- The first thing the officer who approached Lewand's vehicle asked him was how much he had to drink. Lewand replied, "Not a thing. I haven't had a drink in a year and a half." The officer was skeptical, mainly because he smelled alcohol. Also, when the officer asked Lewand what the smell was, Lewand seemed dumbfounded as he tried to come up with an explanation, eventually throwing out the idea that the smell was from breath mints.
- Lewand said he was coming from a hotel and was on his way to pick up somebody. His reason for being at the bar, which he claimed he never went into physically, was that the person or group of people he was picking up was supposed to be there. He pulled out of the bar's parking lot to instead go to a Knights Of Columbus hall (the location of a dinner), which is where the person or people he was picking up supposedly went.
- Lewand said he didn't realize he was weaving in and out of his lane.
- As soon as Lewand stepped out of his vehicle, the officer reacted to the smell of alcohol and said that Lewand was lying to him.
- Before sobriety tests were conducted, the officer twice asked Lewand if he was going to stick to his guns that he hadn't had anything to drink. In response to the anything to drink part, Lewand said, "No, sir." The officer seemed surprised and asked if Lewand was sure, and Lewand responded, "I promise." A few minutes later the officer once again asked if Lewand was going to stick to his guns about when his last drink was, and Lewand reiterated, "A year and a half ago." This time he threw his arms up as he answered the question, somewhat indicating that that wasn't the truth.
- Lewand was asked if he had any physical problems or if he was on any medication, and he responded that he was taking something for his shoulder, but he made it clear that it isn't something that would affect his driving.
- During the sobriety tests, the video showed that Lewand really didn't struggle too much other than dropping his foot right off the bat during the balance test before proceeding to do it for 20 seconds. Wondering why Lewand failed these tests, I consulted the police report, which shows why you really had to be there to see everything.
Although Lewand completed the alphabet and counting tests as requested, it was noted in the police report that he did not do the walk and turn test heel to toe as requested. That was not clear from watching the video since you couldn't see his feet, nor was it clear that he moved his head while attempting to follow the officer's pen as it was moved horizontally. The test called for Lewand to only move his eyes, but you really had to look closely at the video to see he was moving his head as well. Also, it was noted in the police report that Lewand touched his upper lip rather than his nose during the finger to nose test, and that he was swaying during a test where he had to put his feet together, hands at his sides and tilt his head back.
- One of the officers on the scene searched Lewand's vehicle after the sobriety tests and did not find anything suspicious.
- The last part of the video is a back and forth between Lewand and the officers about taking a breath test. Obviously if he hadn't had anything to drink, he shouldn't have had a problem with taking a breathalyzer, but he hesitated since that would have revealed he was lying. After asking about what his options were as far as what would happen if he did or didn't take the test, Lewand continued to ponder what to do. Eventually the officers got fed up with waiting and simply asked him to respond yes or no to their request to administer a breathalyzer. Finally Lewand consented with the request, but at the last second he changed his mind. The officers gave him one last chance to take the test, but again Lewand hesitated, and he was then arrested for refusing to take the test.
The main things I noticed about the video are the following:
- Lewand remained polite throughout the entire stop and did everything the officers asked until the request to take a breathalyzer.
- For blowing a .21 later that night, Lewand did seem aware of his surroundings and didn't seem to slur his speech (not that I noticed, anyways). He wasn't stumbling around either, which most probably couldn't say if they had a BAC of .21. My point is that he didn't look like he was completely trashed despite his high BAC number. I guess that indicates that he has built up a tolerance to alcohol and can still function to an extent despite being quite drunk. That said, there's no doubt he was having problems keeping his car under control. He was weaving in and out of his lane and could have easily caused an accident had he not been pulled over.
- I imagine Lewand thought he could get out of this situation by lying and proceeding to not completely fail the sobriety tests, but he clearly didn't think that idea through since you can't lie your way through a breath test. As if everything in the video wasn't evidence enough that he lied, the fact that he was so concerned about a breath test and ultimately did not take one on the scene says quite a bit about the corner he backed himself into.
Now that all of the details are out and I've had a chance to watch the video, my final thoughts on Tom Lewand are this: I do feel sorry for him in the sense that he is battling alcoholism and clearly isn't doing too well right now. As far as discipline goes, he is going to have to deal with the legal ramifications and whatever the NFL decides to do, so I don't know if there is much else the Lions can do in that regard.
Although Lewand obviously made a huge mistake and was completely irresponsible by deciding to get behind the wheel on Friday night, hopefully this will be his rock bottom moment that makes him realize he has to get his life in order when it comes to alcohol. We don't know the ins and outs of his problem, but it's obvious he needs to take some time to get help. If the Lions are going to do anything, letting him take time off to get the help he needs is probably the best scenario. A couple days ago I was on the bandwagon for serious discipline or even firing him, but the best solution is probably for the Lions to give him time to fight his problem and give him a second chance if he gets his life back on track. Obviously if there are any more legal problems, his time with the Lions should come to an end, but I do think he deserves a second chance.