URBANA — Additional charges have been filed against a woman who has become a cause celebre for racial-justice groups over her treatment by Urbana police four months ago.
Aleyah Lewis, 22, of Urbana arrived at the Champaign County Courthouse early Tuesday for a status hearing on charges alleging that she punched, kicked, spit on and resisted Urbana police officers who were investigating a shooting.
She was met outside by several supporters demanding that the criminal charges stemming from her April 10 arrest on Colorado Avenue be dismissed.
Inside, she was greeted with new criminal charges stemming from conduct that occurred on June 23, the last day she was in court on those battery charges.
State’s Attorney Julia Rietz filed one new felony and two misdemeanor counts that Judge Tom Difanis read to Lewis: criminal trespass to residence, criminal damage to property and disorderly conduct for filing a false report with the Department of Children and Family Services against an Urbana woman.
Lewis’ new attorney, Jeanette Samuels of Chicago, entered a not-guilty plea. Difanis allowed Lewis to go free on the new case. She was told to be back in court Sept. 8 on both cases.
In the new case, Rietz said about 5:30 p.m. June 23, Lewis and a man with whom she was staying went to the Urbana home of the man’s sister.
He stayed in the car while Lewis allegedly pounded on the woman’s door and windows, demanding to be let in to collect property. The woman was inside with her children and nephews and would not open the door.
The Urbana police report said Lewis then went to the back door and walked in, reportedly carrying a box cutter.
She took a laundry basket full of clothes belonging to the resident, went outside, and threw a lawn ornament through the rear window of the woman’s van that was parked in the garage.
Lewis then left with her male friend and later left a voicemail message on the phone of a 12-year-old boy who was in the house telling him he was lucky that she “didn’t bust you in your (expletive) face.”
The same message also warned that she would be calling DCFS on the female resident.
About five hours later, the DCFS hotline got an anonymous call alleging that the woman’s children had access to drugs and guns and had been hurt by the female resident.
A DCFS investigator went to the woman’s home the next day and found no drugs, guns or injuries to the children and no other evidence that they were abused or neglected.
On Tuesday, Lewis’ supporters were chanting “We believe that we will win” as she entered the courthouse.
They held signs and wrote messages in chalk on the courthouse plaza calling for the charges against her to be dismissed and the officers involved to be criminally charged, and criticizing Rietz’s wardrobe.
Rietz told Samuels, the new attorney from the firm of Shiller, Preyar, Jarard and Samuels, that the same plea offer she made to Lewis’ public defender, Matt Ham, for a guilty plea in exchange for probation, was still on the table.
Samuels told the judge there was no need for a probable-cause hearing in the new case.
Meanwhile, the man that Lewis was with in April is set to be sentenced Sept. 10. Kamarion Busby pleaded guilty in July to unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon.