Public defender: Broward detainee charged with criminal transmission of HIV does not have the virus
Jason Blank, the assistant public defender representing Lewis, writes to The Florida Independent:
Daniel is innocent of these charges. We have obtained reliable evidence that Daniel is not, nor has ever been infected with HIV. It is clear that the officer’s sworn allegations of Daniel’s infection with HIV is not only a lie and highly illegal, but is being used to cover-up the excessive use of force during his arrest. In the end, it will not be Daniel, but rather the officers that will be found Guilty in a court of law.
Blank tells the Independent that while in custody Lewis was tested for HIV and that Broward County jail medical records show the results were negative.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report indicates that Lewis, arrested for shoplifting, physically resisted being placed in a sheriff’s car and attempted to bite a deputy. According to the report Lewis “attempted to bite a deputy while knowing he was HIV positive.”
Deputy Frank Pennachio signed the arrest report, but Blank explains it is not clear who made up the charges.
“Lewis never made any statement that he was HIV-positive,” Blank says. “The cops basically made this up.”
He adds that photographs of Lewis shortly after his arrest show he was clearly injured from what Blank says was the excessive use of force by the officers during the arrest.
Blank says he discussed the future of Lewis’ case with the Broward state attorney’s office, but has not discussed this development in the case with the sheriff’s office. “My No. 1 concern is dealing with the prosecution of my client, dealing with the lying cops is secondary,” Blank says.
Blank says the charges of criminal transmission of HIV against Lewis have not been dropped, but adds: “I do expect the state attorney will not be filing those charges against Daniel.”