My name is Tyrone Lewis and this letter is another step toward regaining something that was maliciously taken from me: my good name and reputation.
From 1983-2015, I served you as a Jackson Police Officer, Chief and Hinds County Sheriff. These were not second choices or fall back positions. I chose to serve my community in this way and believe I did a good job.
In my re-election campaign, I was the subject of a vicious and false social media campaign. I was wrongly accused of victimizing an ex-wife, molesting a child and fathering a child with an underage woman. None of these things were true. In fact, a divorce decree proved my ex-wife was at fault, there was no molestation and two paternity tests cleared me of fatherhood in the other case. Those who sought to destroy my reputation ignored these facts or set them aside. I went to court and got a temporary restraining order to make these people stop, but they would not.
As the campaign continued, support waned and positive polling reversed. At public events, no one asked about the important issues or what progress the Sheriff’s Department had made under my watch, all they asked about was the gossip. This not only affected me, but my children who had to endure these lies at school, church and in our community. I lost the election and accepted the results, but I vowed then that I would not lose my good name.
Once the election was over, many people forgot and moved on. I did not. For years, my attorney, Dennis Sweet III and Sweet and Associates, doggedly pursued those who knowingly repeated those lies. I am grateful for their friendship and support over this time. Finally, on February 11, 2019, I received my victory and the liars had to face the truth.
I received a total of $55,000 as a judgement against the perpetrators: Sheila Lewis, Tangue Davis, Kristie Nichols and Tony Davis. Hinds County Chancery Judge James Bell acknowledged that they “worked together to conjure up and make up lies; that’s the definition of a conspiracy.” He also said that while people have free speech and First Amendment rights, publishing defamatory lies are not part of those protections. I am grateful for the verdict, but that money doesn’t make up for unfairly losing an election and the pain my family went through. That is not why I kept fighting.
Just as I fought for the community as a law enforcement officer, I am fighting to end social media attacks that are based on lies and ruin peoples lives. This sort of behavior is not acceptable and keeps many good people from running for office. In the space that we are in, we can’t afford to cut anyone out. We need every qualified person involved.
So, for those people, my attorney Dennis Sweet III and I stayed in the fight. We hope the message in this case is clear: do not use social media to defame anyone, to spread lies to get an advantage or ruin their reputation. You can find yourself on the losing end of a lawsuit and end up being the one whose name is tarnished.