LAS VEGAS- "It's a T.A. vehicle, state vehicle, and we're watching it go down Purple Shadow Lane now," said former taxi officer Scott Lewis.
Lewis calmly reviews the videotape that led to his arrest on charges of conspiracy and stalking.
Two years ago, he was fired from his job policing taxis at the airport. The Taxi Authority piled up an amazing laundry list of more than two dozen allegations to justify getting rid of him. Since then, Lewis has been fighting through the system to be reinstated and has been an outspoken critic of the Taxicab Authority.
Weeks ago, Lewis tipped off the I-Team to the fact that T.A. administrator Gordon Walker had ordered taxi officers to conduct nightly patrols past Walker's home, averaging about five patrols per night according to a three-day sample of dispatch logs.
The patrols started at the beginning of April and continued until Lewis was arrested last weekend -- right after the I-Team spent three nights documenting the drive-by's.
On April 17, 2010, Lewis asked a friend to drive him to the area so he could see the activity for himself and record it on a camera the size of a cell phone. He had every right to be out there on a public street, and plenty of personal motivation as well.
"It would be hard to word the frustration I have with the rogue agency that destroyed my life. We were anxious to document more of their conduct," he said.
After recording two of the patrols through Walker's neighborhood, Lewis and his friend drove up behind a T.A. vehicle to record the license plate. That's when the officer noticed them and pulled them over for allegedly running a stop sign, even though T.A. policy says taxi cops are not supposed to issue citations to non-taxis for routine traffic violations. Lewis let the camera run.
After being detained for some time, Lewis called Las Vegas Metro Police. So did the T.A.. Someone also alerted Gordon Walker, who came to the scene. Walker had otherwise been unaware Lewis was in his neighborhood, just as he had no idea the I-Team was present on the preceding nights.
Instead of asking Metro to investigate further, Walker once again made use of his employees. A team of T.A. investigators convened to put a case together against Lewis and his friend. The T.A. convinced a judge to issue a protective order on the grounds that Lewis had threatened Walker's life, which did not occur, and also because Lewis owns guns, which he does not.
A lurid and exaggerated account of the incident was prepared and T.A. asked prosecutors to fast track a criminal charge against the two men.
The charges accuse Lewis of vandalizing Walker's car eight months earlier, though there isn't a shred of evidence, and Lewis is blamed for writing a letter to Walker's wife alleging the T.A. boss is having romantic affairs. Again, there is nothing linking Lewis to the letter, but it was the letter that prompted Walker to order the nightly patrols.
On Monday, the two men had to appear in court. Their defense lawyer is astonished at how such a specious allegation ever got this far.
"Here is a guy who is trying to do the right thing. He is trying to hold people accountable for their jobs, to do what they were elected or appointed to do, and now for that he has the privilege of being fired. He's been arrested. If anything, the harassment goes the other way," said attorney Ron Colquitt.
The complaint against Lewis paints a different picture than what is shown on the video tape. It claims Scott Lewis was lurking behind Walker's house with surveillance equipment. The complaint also alleges Lewis was caught hiding in the dark, and that he tried to drive away. The video shows otherwise.
To make matters tougher for Lewis, the T.A. used the arrest as a reason to seek dismissal of his wrongful termination case, which was nearly finished. At a minimum, that case will be delayed for months.
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