UPDATE: Hewett supporters won’t release their side of the story

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Submitted: Sat, 08/23/2014 - 3:41am
Updated: Sat, 08/23/2014 - 4:02pm

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — Ron Hewett supporters held a public meeting Friday night that was not so public.

A Leland man put together an event to tell what he says is the truth behind the former Brunswick County Sheriff’s death. Earlier today, Ronnie Lewis told us Hewett’s death was “help gone wrong” and the video released by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is depicted incorrectly.

Lewis made a Facebook group right after Hewett’s death in the New Hanover County Jail. It’s called “Justice for Sheriff Ronald Hewett.” Then he began posting about an event to “get the truth out about what happened to Hewett.”

The event posting says, “Our meeting with the public and all of our supporters will be held this Friday at the Leland Park.”

When we showed up at the public park to hear Lewis’s side of the story, we were told it was not to be televised.

“I hope that camera is not recording,” Lewis said.

Lewis went on to describe the last few days of Hewett’s life. Lewis said the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office released video that was depicted the way they wanted it to be. Lewis would not let us record any of these comments. He said it was out of respect for Hewett’s family.

A New Hanover County Sheriff’s spokesman declined to comment on the movement.


  • Vacationer says:

    Seems Mr. Lewis is wise to discourage the media which traditionally sides with authorities involved. Since in the initial one-hour press conference video (which has been removed from the internet), authorities described Ronald Hewett’s death as homicide, then there should be a federal investigation. Mr. Lewis should be applauded as one who has the courage to stand his ground facing the adversity of the press and cronies of the involved LE community. This case should go beyond S.B.I. and local investigations because Mr. Hewett was detained, and in federal custody.

  • Vacationer says:

    How often is a male or female prisoner allowed to frequent the halls of a jail in his/her undergarments? Why didn’t authorities show the sections of tape or audio before and immediately after the cell door was open? Was Mr. Hewett’s mother or any other visitor denied visitation? Was Mr. Hewett allowed at least one phone call? How long was the period of time between the time of arrest and actual incarceration? What happened during that period? Why wasn’t Mr. Hewett incarcerated in the same county where the crime occurred? Were the guns in his possession in his name? If not, to whom were they registered? Mr. Hewett was a high-profile prisoner and his story was well known to the area. Were the jailers aware that he had alcohol addiction or heart problems, and that the use of tasers or stun guns may jeopardize his health? When he was held down on the floor was his mouth and nose pressed to the floor prohibiting him from breathing? Was the blood really from his hand? If he was in federal custody, in the custody of U.S. Marshals, then it should be mandatory that the federal government has its own investigation to protect other potential federal prisoners that might be held within that, or any other facility. There are more questions, these are just a few the Federal Government might consider.
    Responding to cruel, hate-filled comments made here, Mr. Hewett didn’t “get what he wanted” nor did he “get what he deserved.” We do know he didn’t want his family threatened by Rex Gore because he wrote that story about his guilty plea to the news media. He wrote that the threats were the reason for his guilty plea–– to protect his family.
    “Crazy” might define a couple jail guards who let prisoners run around the halls half naked, and use tasers on a man’s bare skin. “Crazy” might define putting up an hour long video that rules homicide and then taking it down.
    I don’t believe “crazy” properly defines any American Citizen who expresses concern when the system has failed to act professionally and with regard for protecting human life and dignity. In the case of Ronald Hewett, it appears New Hanover officials and those who were involved in his arrest and incarceration did neither.

  • zenobia says:

    If he was experiencing the DTs and did not receive proper medical treatment then he died of neglect, not murder
    “The hallmark of major withdrawal is alcohol hallucinations, which occurs 10-72 hours after the last drink, and may last for two days. The symptoms can appear as frank psychosis. Up to 25% of alcohol dependent individuals in withdrawal will have alcoholic hallucinations, which can be visual, tactile and/or auditory. They hear accusatory or threatening voices”

  • just me says:

    Ronald told several people he was being watched every minute. I’d like to know who was watching him, was it the illegal gambling people, the illegal drug people or the mafia that has moved into so many areas. Was it people he arrested or was it people he ran against in politics. Funny how he stood up and protected people all those years and when it came time nobody was there for him. The government even took away his ability to protect himself. Best thing he could have done was leave the area, wiped the dust off his feet and never looked back. He does not have to be afraid for himself or his family any more. R.I.P. Ronald Hewett you were loved and respected by a lot of people that wish they could have told you that before you died. Anybody with bad comments needs to walk just one mile in Ronald’s moccasins before they ever make another nasty statement. Every sheriff in this country ought to look at the facts about the life and death of Ronald Hewett.

  • Medawar says:

    Mr Hewitt’s documented history of alcohol problems is most relevant to his treatment in the hours and days BEFORE the final incident. The appropriate intervention could perhaps have been made at an early stage considering how well known those problems evidently were.

    Grounds for a Federal Investigation would be if Mr Hewitt was denied his legal or constitutional rights in some way (or any way, in fact) whilst in custody (USC 18 section 241), or if the manner or circumstances of his arrest by Federal Agents and remand to custody were improper.

  • Medawar says:

    Indeed, homicide does not mean a crime has been committed, but it usually means that an investigation is indicated to establish whether or not the other persons involved in the death acted as they should have done. That includes in the hours and even days before the final incident in a case like this, where hallucinations may have been affecting the prisoner’s mental state and behaviour. In some of the video footage that I have viewed at a friend’s suggestion, Mr Hewitt’s nose and mouth are against the floor.

    In the UK there have been a couple of cases of criminals dying when restrained by groups of people during a citizen’s arrest. There was also a case of a former paratrooper dying in police custody in Yorkshire when restrained by several officers. Where there’s a crowd, and sometimes a crowd is needed, there’s no control over who applies pressure where.

    I believe that the justice for Hewitt movement is not solely concerned with the circumstances of his death, but are also interested in the propriety of his arrest and the virtue of the case against him, which will not now be tested in court.

    They were also faced with a press presence when many of them met each other for the first time, when they hadn’t even begun to discuss which aspects they should concentrate on and whether everyone had the same general views about what happened. Giving them an hour’s grace in such circumstances would have been courteous.

  • ex patient says:

    Having spent some time on a mental health ward which dealt with detox cases as well as other problems, I can vouch for the fact that the ones coming off the booze behave very strangely for a couple of days and can be quite unpleasant to be near for that time, then the real person emerges again. They can be most embarrassed or even disbelieving about what they said and did while hallucinating!

  • Guest2020 says:

    Did you ever stop to think that he could have just been experiencing paranoia due to his chronic alcohol use? The government didn’t take away his right to bear arms. He did that when he committed a felony. He lost the respect of fellow law enforcement officers when he abused his power to commit crimes. He lost the respect of the decent, law-abiding citizens of Brunswick County, when he embezzled from them. I don’t think there is one sheriff in this country with any respect for Ron Hewett as a sheriff and should have no interest in looking at the facts of his life. The facts of his death are that he started an altercation that put undue stress on his heart and caused him to die.

  • Guest of the thin blue line says:

    Whats the matter Ronnie Lewis the truth hurts isnt that why you keep deleting all the comments on your Justice for Ronald Hewitt FB page.

  • just me says:

    It was a matter of public record that he suffered from the medical problem of alcohol addiction. More the reason not to use tasers on his bare skin, or even if he had clothes on. Nothing justifies them letting him into that hall half naked. You will never convince the majority that he did all of that to himself. He wrote that his family had been threatened. Are you also going to say he was a liar and hallucinating? He wrote that he didn’t fight accusations and agreed to a plea and went to prison because he wanted to spare his family and Rex Gore had threatened them. You can continue slamming this man for his medical condition but before you do go back and read the letter he wrote. And inasmuch as you’d like to blame DT’s and alcohol abuse, hallucinations, or anything else, please realize that there *is* a powerful criminal underground in this country, Ronald Hewett *did* have political enemies, and he had broken up gambling operations and raided marijuana patches, drug rings and made a lot of criminal and politically connected and powerful people angry. With all his imperfections, he didn’t deserve to die the way he did, with a bunch of jail guards piled on top of him shocking him to exhaustion and death. With all his imperfections, he doesn’t need to be belittled even after he has been so swiftly placed in his grave. He should be remembered for the good things he did and his good service to his community that he loved. R.I.P. Ronald Hewett.

  • guestofthe blueline says:

    Yes Ronnie Lewis is a convicted felon do not give cash to this Justice for Ronald Hewett fund. You dont spend a year in jail wrongly convicted, Ronnie Lewis is a shine on me spot light person. What a sick person feeds off of the tradgedy of others.. Go crawl back under your rosk….

  • Guest2020 says:

    So, you believe that the jail cell being closed and Hewett remaining in his cell would have made him more likely to comply to commands to get dressed? How would the door being closed have changed his attitude?

    There is no need for a federal investigation to determine the cause of death. The coroner has already determined the cause of death. He died of cardiomyopathy that was aggravated by chronic alcohol use and stress from the altercation. The coroner stated plainly that the tasing did not cause his death. He stated plainly that the position they held him in did not cause his death. Hewett had a bad heart and he engaged in an emotionally and physically stressful situation that caused that bad heart to fail.

  • just me says:

    Very important to note that many members of the community loved and respected Ronald Hewett. Love issues no exclusive rights for family members only. Where there’s love, there is no revenge or ill-will intended against anyone. Let justice take its course and hopefully truth will prevail.

  • Guest2020 says:

    I never said he deserved to die, that way or any other way. I have said, more than once, that his crimes were not deserving of the death penalty. They did not let him get in the hall half naked. His coming out of his cell in boxers and his not complying with commands to get dressed, are what started the altercation. He was the aggressor. They did what they are supposed do in their attempts to get him to comply. The stress of the situation put a strain on his heart. Regardless of the good he did, he betrayed the trust of the citizens he was elected to serve. He pleaded guilty. In doing so,he admitted that he committed the crimes. There was evidence that pointed to his guilt. Is there evidence to show that Rex Gore was even going to prosecute Hewett’s family?

  • just me says:

    Can you prove Rex Gore didn’t say it? Let’s take a look at Rex Gore’s record to see how honest he is. Who opened the cell door and let Ronald Hewett out in the hall in his underwear? How aggressive could he have been if the cell door had never been opened? I suppose Ronald opened the door himself? If you’re speaking for every sheriff in the country, then let’s give them the facts before they form any opinions with you as their spokesman! The problem seems to be just that: getting the facts, doesn’t it?

  • just me says:

    Had Ronald Hewett not been tased, and piled upon and held down by several grown men with his body and face pressed against the floor, without question, he would be alive today. If he was not dressed and refused to get dressed then there was no legitimate reason to open the cell door. Video and audio wasn’t made available to show if anything was said to him to provoke his anger. ALL of the video and audio was never presented to the public. Forensics examiners–– not coroners–– determine the cause of death. According to initial reports, there are still tests which have not been completed that might explain more about his alcohol related medical problem and heart problems, and whether he had been given any drugs that could have complicated the situation. His medical condition was well-documented for the public in legal and newspaper documents. A visitor was denied the right to see him the day before he died. (Why? Was there something wrong?) The cell door never should have been opened. PERIOD. If he were alive we would know whether he put the gun in his bedside table or whether someone else planted it there. We would also know who the other guns belonged to. His death ruled homicide, Ronald Hewett died in federal custody. Because of this, it should be mandatory that the federal government perform a thorough, unbiased, and scientific investigation.

  • Guest2020 says:

    You can’t prove a negative. You say that Rex Gore said those things, then give evidence to that. Otherwise, it stands that Hewett was guilty as he admitted.

    The doors at the New Hanover County jail can be opened electronically with the push of a button. When it was time for Hewett to go see his visitors, they pushed a button to open his cell. He then walked out in his boxers. They weren’t standing at the door to open it. They didn’t know he was coming out in his boxers.

    As for what I said about the other sheriffs–Good law enforcement officers do not like dirty cops. I know of one officer who has barely spoken to a relative of his who was convicted of crimes while said relative was on duty. Ron Hewett disrespected his office and dishonored his badge and he embezzled from the people he was elected to serve. He would not be respected by anyone in law enforcement.

  • just me says:

    Here’s the proof.

    Maybe they need to check and make sure the prisoners are still alive and dressed before they push buttons and open cell doors.

  • just me says:

    “Convicted felon” is a term that destroys a person’s life and credibility, but it is not always the TRUTH. Thousands of people have been wrongfully imprisoned and falsely accused and some even put to death in this country. Their lives, earning capacity, and reputations have been tarnished forever. What matters is the TRUTH. ALWAYS. If you possess a rare and commendable motivation and fortitude to get the truth, then perhaps you and Ronnie Lewis have something in common. Nobody likes to see good people punished, imprisoned, killed, ostracized, trashed or crucified for seeking the truth. Get smart. Research the subject before casting aspersions and making misguided statements!

  • Medawar says:

    It has been claimed, but obviously not yet verified, that many of the guns found at Ron Hewitt’s address were actually being stored for Justin Hewitt who was using them in a training exercise for his own sheriff’s department.

    If that was true, the Ron Hewitt’s arrest and Justin Hewitt’s judgement could both be called into question. You have a death in custody of a person who shouldn’t necessarily have been in custody in the first place. That seems like not unreasonable grounds for people to go on asking questions.

  • Guest2020 says:

    That is just Ron Hewett claiming that Rex Gore was going after his family. That is not evidence that Gore was actually going to do it.

    Maybe the inmates should just act like they are supposed to. I am sure the jailers had no reason to suspect that Hewett was going to come into the day room in his boxers. Do you really think it would have been different had they looked into his cell? They would have still told him to get dressed. He would have still refused to comply. They would have had to go into the cell to get him to comply. The actions following the refusal would have still occurred. The result would have probably been the same.

  • just me says:

    Ronald Hewett wrote in his own words that Rex Gore threatened his family. Only Rex Gore and anyone who heard the threats knows whether or not this is true. If you ask Rex, perhaps he will tell you what was said.
    It would have been very different had they looked into Ronald’s cell before pushing the button to open the cell door while he was unclothed. They may have opted to leave the door shut. There is no way to predict what Ronald would have done or not done if they told him to get dressed. There is no way to predict whether he would have agreed to comply or not. There is no way to predict whether he would have survived the jail had the jailers never opened the door while he was still undressed. There is no way to predict the result being “probably the same” in any circumstance other than the actual event and how it occurred. There should be a full-scale, federal investigation from the outside which will answer all of the questions and determine whether Ronald Hewett’s death was caused by criminal neglect, physical exhaustion, electrical shock and stress, or deficient procedures. Knowing he had an alcohol problem that was well documented in historic legal documents and in the newspaper, should have been considered before they sent volts of electricity into his bare skin.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Ruling a death a homicide does not mean that the homicide was murder. That just means that the manner of death includes homicide.

    When a coroner issues a report he will list a manner of death. Manners of death are as follows:


    Homicide just means that another person is involved in the death. If you shoot and kill a person in self defense, it is considered a homicide. A ruling of homicide in no way means that Hewett was murdered. It just means that the events that led do his death involved another person. It does not necessarily mean that a crime was committed.

    The cause of death was “‘dilated cardiomyopathy’ with the contributing factors of ‘stress of subdual’ and ‘chronic alcohol use'”. In other words Hewett had a bad heart that was made worse by the alcohol abuse and the stress of the altercation, which he caused. The coroner specifically said that the taser did not cause his death. He said that the position they had to hold him in did not cause his death. The specific actions that the deputies took to subdue Ron Hewett did not cause his death.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    How ignorant can you be? The man is dead, let him rest in peace. Ronnie Lewis has zero credible information. He is looking for a little attention, kind of like Ronald used to do. All the proof in the world will not be good enough for the sheep.

  • Guest Reply Redux says:

    Why would you even make that statement GOP? With all the corruption in law enforcement in your corner of the world…any substantial or creditable evidence brought forward should be presented as quickly as the investigation was within their law enforcement group was concluded. Kinda like the Detective in Boiling Spring Lakes that shot the young man a few months back has been quiet for how long now…months??!!
    Your way of thinking was right off the movie…”Walking Tall” 1st/2nd/3rd movie…however many.
    Don’t become a Detective GOP or even think about it…unless it’s with your kids or grand kids in your backyard…maybe not even then.

  • zenobia says:

    If Hewett was having serious medical issues such as DTs he deserved prompt medical treatment. NC really drops the ball on caring for prisoners in withdrawal and I hope each and every person who has lost a family member due to substandard care in prison sues.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Trials for serious charges like voluntary manslaughter do not happen overnight and there will not be a play-by-play account of every detail of the investigation. It is not unusual for a case to be quiet for months.

    As for the Ron Hewett case, read the DA’s report and the coroner’s letter. They give a very good explanation of the altercation and the cause of death.

  • Brunswick Family Member says:

    We all knew Ronnie, grew up with him, admired him. But something went wrong. The well intentioned humble servant had gone astray. I can’t judge that, but y’all know what I’m talking about. We all heard the rumors, the accusations, and we all defended our friend; our Sheriff. But a whole lot of attention was given to our Sheriff, and somewhere along the line, he started to feed on it. Power can bring about a lot of undesirable traits. I won’t speak to what they were, because I have my own. But when the facts came out, our ol’ boy was in a mess for a while. Everything got warped, twisted and… Dysfunctional. He went away but then came back. It’s really hard to change your life when you come back to “the scene of the crime”. I don’t know everything that happened in between, but the man was showing out pretty good with those Deputies. No one expected that of our Ronnie, or that he would pass from a little ol’ taser. Now that he’s gone, can we just let it be? Ronnie Hewett is accountable for his life and if there’s been an injustice, our faith tells us that he is already received his just reward. We have to resign from perpetuating this dysfunction. Let him rest in peace and allow his dear family to heal.

  • knowsitsbull says:

    Everyone who is from Leland knows that Ronnie Lewis is crazy. He is a felon. He was not even friends with Ronald Hewett. He is delusional and has no information. He is doing this for mere attention. Let Ronald Hewett rest in peace. This is all crazy.

  • Barry says:

    Sir, you make yourself to be an inbred nut. Hewett did what he did,,and succumbed to it…

  • Everyone Knows says:

    Ronnie, you can’t dispute what’s on video. It’s video, the events as they happened. “and the video released by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is depicted incorrectly”. What a joke.

    Hewett knew exactly what he was doing and he got what he wanted.

  • BAM says:

    Perhaps people in Brunswick County should respond the way people did in Ferguson. The scenario was similar.

  • wilm city here says:

    i moved here over 16 years ago i heard from day one that there was something in the water in leland that does something to the minds of leland people

  • I Care Why says:

    If the brunswick county detectives had any part in this the case was jeopardized from the start. I do not think they would know evidence if it slapped them in the face.

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