FIRST ON 3: Former Leland officer talks about shooting, harassment within department
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LELAND, NC (WWAY) -- Former Leland Police officer Sherry Lewis says she has been to hell and back in the last couple of years. For the first time since settling her harassment claim with the town of Leland, Lewis is talking about her experience in the Leland Police Department.

She says things were so bad that she no longer feared what she would come across on the street, but what she had to face inside the station.

March 10 was no different.

Officers were scheduled to participate in a new training simulation exercise. Lewis and other officers agreed that this was going to be another situation where she was targeted.

"I knew how things were and how I was generally targeted and how they felt about me and that they would probably target me to drive me away and humiliate me," Lewis said. "I knew it was coming. This was typical. This was not new to me."

Lewis says during the exercises, she was shot about eight times between her legs before the group broke for lunch. She says she asked the sergeant who was shooting her repeatedly, who we've learned was Mike Landen, to stop shooting her in the crotch because she did not know how much more she could take.

"At this point it was so painful. That's when I had asked them to please stop it, but, of course, they laughed and giggled and just added to my embarrassment," Lewis said.

Lewis says she did not stop participating and tried to ignore the pain. When she was shot in the crotch about four more times, she said she finally broke.

"It hurt pretty bad," she said. "If I describe what I said or did at that moment, I basically clenched my fists and my teeth, swore under my breath, as the two lieutenants were on either side of me yelling and just demeaning me and humiliating me as the other officers watched."

Lewis says after that, her supervisors told her to leave immediately. Because she had ridden with other officers, she was left without a ride home and was made to walk, which only made her injuries worse.

"My pants were sticking to the little cuts, and every time I'd move my legs it'd pull out of the cuts and make it bleed more. It hurt horribly. The only way I could walk was with my feet apart and I had to walk quite a distance," Lewis said.

After calling her son to pick her up in Kure Beach, Lewis says she called Leland Mayor Pro Tem Brenda Bozeman.

"I poured my heart out," Lewis said. "I told her everything that had happened. Everything that had been happening. I told her I had to resign. I could not face them again. Could I please please turn my badge, my gun, everything from the department into her? That I could never walk into the department again. I couldn't look these men in the eye again."

Lewis says Bozeman told her she needed to make some calls and would get back to her. She never did.

Lewis got a call from Police Chief Tim Jayne an hour later. She says he told her he met with Bozeman and Leland Town Manager Bill Farris to discuss what happened.

Other than giving her statement to the then assistant town manager, Lewis says she never heard from anyone of authority in Leland again. Lewis says that's when she got her attorney involved. She says she wanted the people responsible for the issues in the police department held accountable.

"This was not about money," Lewis said. "Not once during the whole process did I tell my attorney, 'I want X amount of dollars. I want money, money, money.' This was never about the money. This was about righting a wrong, keeping my reputation in tact so that I could continue to do the job I was sworn to do at another department, and also to make sure that the officers that remained there didn't have to keep going through what they're going through."

Lewis says she knows the abuse at the training session was no accident. She says to her knowledge Landen was never disciplined for his involvement.

"I have several witnesses that are sworn officers that heard the planning and actually heard after the fact when I was made to leave the facility that they had done it and it was funny to them," Lewis said. "This was not a training accident. This was an intentional act against me."

Lewis says she was going to try to wait out the bad apples, but she could not stand the situation any longer. She now hopes that by sharing her story, other officers will come forward so that the truth will come out and Leland will have a reliable department again. For now though, she says some cops are not living up to the standards they swore to uphold.

"We, as police officers, are held to a higher standard than your average citizens," Lewis said. "We are the sheep dogs. When the sheep dog becomes the wolf, who do you turn to?"

We've tried to talk with town leaders in Leland, including Jayne, Farris and Bozeman, about what happened to Lewis. They have all refused to discuss the situation citing personnel confidentiality.

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Wait there's more!!!Say's who? Say's Kblue!

Is that the paper mill or the police dept.????? It's starting to stink k blue, what do you think!!

I think it has stunk for some time now. But in time it will be like opening a brand new Air Freshener, all yummy smelling an junk! Say's who? Say's Kblue!

Funny. I'm not seeing anyone defend the supervisors or Landen.

Sherry,

I will thank you for the work you did in Leland, while I was there you displayed honor and pride in your job as well as others. you never complained nor waiverd in your duties. Iam truly proud to have called you a co-worker.

I watched as you displayed such joy in the DARE program and talked to several citizens that said it was truly a pleasure to work with you.

no one knows better the pain you must feel to have to give up a program as you did than I. I too have felt the pain of of having to walkaway from something I had such passion and effort in.

You can hold your head high there is no shame in the work you did in Leland you are a inspiration to all.

When you find out who this is call me I will write you a letter of recommendation any day.. The Legend

Don't you mean SGT, he is LT. Delapia's right hand man. He use to work for WPD and couldn't handle so he washed up over there. Also if the rumors are right he can't work for anyone but LT. Delapia if he has to listen to someon else he gets confused.

Thank you, Sherry Lewis, for stepping forward and showing that these stories about Leland that have come out over the past few months are not what town administrators have labeled "rumors" or accusations made by "bitter former employees". The fact is that people like Jayne, Dellapia and Farris still reach out and try to damage the reputations of people that didn't fall into their click and are victims of vindictive and petty retaliations by small people who are too insecure about themselves to be real leaders. People who damage the already tarnished reputations of police officers and government officials. Thank you WWAY for having the courage to stick with this story and to Sherry Lewis who, I am sure, will get ridicule from people within LAPD who will post on this blog to try to discredit her. But the truth is winning out no matter how much Leland leaders want to bury their heads in the sand! Remember, where there is smoke, there is fire and it is getting pretty smokey in Leland!!

My late brother who was in Law Enforcement for 15 years, went to the chief as well as the mayor and town council about his complain about horseplay behavour behind the wheel of the LPD vehicles.
My brother and his wife were almost hit head on by a LPD officer playing around with another LPD officer on a department motorcycle on Lanvale Road a few years ago. My brother went to the chief that made it clear that he was not going to do anything about it. Then he sent an email to Mayor Futch as well as the Town Council with no response. That is just one of a few problems with this department that has been swept under the rug all these years.

Police Officer Sherry Lewis

Thank You for standing up !

people have to see that a
badge is only a badge,
it's what is behind the badge that is important.

this case is a fine example of why we need more checks and balances of law enforcement to include the good ol boy way of life.

Gosh, I thought we agreed that we weren't going to talk about wives and vehicles anymore?! Thank you so much, Sherry and WWAY, for exposing this. We want to know more. It's absolutely deplorable what they did to you. I bet you felt like you were walking through the boy's high school football team's locker room every day! Bless you, stay strong, and keep the truth coming.

Heyyyy Katie. Why did you rewrite this without mentioning the wives? That detail showed exactly how much they are all in everything. Like these comments. Hmph. Just like women. They can't leave it to their husbands to handle, because the men will surely do it wrong. Keep doing it RIGHT, Ladies! You're really winning over the public!!!