The man at the center of a viral video of him being punched by a Marietta cop while on the ground at an IHOP restaurant has been released from the Cobb County Jail.
Cobb Superior Court Judge C. LaTain "Tain" Kell granted bond for Renardo Nehemiah Lewis, who had been jailed at the facility for a little more than a month following his March 31 arrest. Lewis was released May 2, jail records show.
The Atlanta NAACP, which has been publicizing the case on social media, said it was “delighted” to share the news of Lewis’ release with its followers.
“We are extremely thankful to all who appeared on his behalf in support of his pre-trial release, to the Honorable Judge Kell for hearing our bond motion and all who have supported us in our fight for #justiceforrenardolewis,” the group said on its Facebook page. “The fight for justice has just begun!”
Lewis is charged by Marietta police with making terroristic threats, assaulting an officer and trying to remove their weapons during the March 31 incident at IHOP at 179 Cobb Parkway North. A video uploaded to Instagram by Lewis’ relative shows Lewis in an altercation with officers who were trying to handcuff him.
One officer is seen on camera punching the Marietta resident several times in the head before he is handcuffed and taken from the restaurant. A demonstration protesting the Marietta Police Department’s handling of the situation was held April 26 around downtown.
Lewis was released from jail a day before a Cobb County grand jury tacked on more charges against him in the 14-count indictment stemming from the IHOP case. In addition to the charges issued April 22, Lewis now faces 13 more counts of disorderly conduct, criminal trespassing, terroristic threats and simple battery for a Feb. 16 altercation unrelated to the IHOP incident.
Kim Isaza, spokeswoman with the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, said state law allows prosecutors to add charges of “similar conduct” to a single indictment.
Sarah Flack, the attorney representing Lewis, previously told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the charges levied against her client do not reflect what happened. She also said Marietta police should have worked to deescalate the situation rather than responding to the restaurant with “guns blazing.”
“They chose to assume the worst, and they chose to take it up 10 notches when they should not have done that,” she said, adding there was no reason for the officers to punch her client, who was unarmed, in the face and head while he was on the ground.
Officers were dispatched to a call of threats being made at the restaurant around 12:48 a.m. and began questioning Lewis and his wife, who police said became “agitated” during the process.
In the video posted to Instagram, the Marietta resident and his wife repeatedly tell officers no threat was made. One officer grabs Lewis and he responds by telling the cop, “please don’t grab me, sir.” The officer lets go of Lewis, and tells him “I need you to understand” that he and other officers were at the restaurant to investigate the complaint.
The officer tries to get Lewis to sit down, but he refuses. The video shows the officer shoving Lewis against the wall while trying to place him in handcuffs. The video shows Lewis breaking free and the officers once again trying to restrain him. Lewis is wrestled to the ground and one officer is seen on video giving Lewis a “series of short-strike punches” while he was on the floor, Marietta police previously said.
“While the video may seem shocking to some, we are very proud that all officers used only the force necessary to place Mr. Lewis in handcuffs,” Marietta police previously said in a statement.
Marietta police spokesman Chuck McPhilamy said the agency conducted a review to determine if the officers’ actions were in line with the department’s policies. That review indicated the cops who responded to the IHOP call acted within the guidelines and they all remain active duty.