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Gregory Lewis denies trying to murder Decatur police officer

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DECATUR — Gregory W. Lewis on Wednesday pleaded not guilty to charges he tried to murder a Decatur policeman by shooting at him in January.

The patrol officer, Michael Lawary, immediately returned fire and escaped injury; Lewis, 47, also emerged from the confrontation unharmed. The Jan. 29 incident was captured on Lawary’s bodycam, which became standard equipment for officers toward the end of last year.

Lewis, appearing in custody with defense attorney Michelle Sanders, entered not guilty pleas on one charge of attempted murder and another charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm at a peace officer. He also denied further charges of being an armed habitual criminal, being a felon in possession of a weapon and vehicle theft.

Lewis

Lewis 

Macon County Circuit Court Judge Rodney Forbes found probable cause to try Lewis on all counts and scheduled a pretrial hearing for April 22.

Giving evidence earlier in Wednesday’s proceedings, Detective Jeremy Appenzeller said the shooting happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 29 as police investigated reports of a pickup truck stolen from a West Eldorado Street gas station. Appenzeller, questioned by Macon County State’s Attorney Scott Rueter, said police soon developed information that Lewis had taken the truck.

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Police were working that call at 5:45 a.m. and, within minutes, got a new call from a homeowner on nearby West Cerro Gordo Street saying someone was trying to smash their way into their home. Lawary responded to that call and, after hearing gunfire, saw a man he later found to be Lewis moving around at the back of the house.

“He (Lawary) immediately identified himself as a police officer and he was also identified by being in uniform?” asked Rueter.

“Correct,” replied Appenzeller.

“...He (Lawary) ordered the individual to show his hands and to basically stop… and at that point the individual began firing the firearm in his direction… and Officer Lawary returned fire?”

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“Yes,” said Appenzeller.

The detective said Lewis had then complied with police orders to drop the weapon and lie down on the ground, whereupon he was arrested and his handgun seized.

Sanders had few questions on cross-examination, but confirmed there was an exchange of gunfire and asked if the whole incident was captured on the bodycam footage. Appenzeller said it was.

The April 22 pretrial date promises to be a busy one for Lewis, who has another hearing the same day on two charges of committing aggravated domestic battery. He denies the accusations, which say he strangled and repeatedly punched a woman described as his then-girlfriend.

Lewis remains in the Macon County Jail with bail set at $2.14 million, meaning he would have to post a bond of $214,000 to be released.


Mug shots from the Herald & Review

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid

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