Judge clears Shelton police union rep on trespass charge

Police union rep Michael Lewis received a ticket for simple trespass in May 2020 from Lts. Brian Yerzak and Michael McPadden. Lewis received the ticket, police said, for entering a restricted area at police headquarters to take pictures of the portable toilets. Lewis fought the ticket in court and was recently found not guilty.

Police union rep Michael Lewis received a ticket for simple trespass in May 2020 from Lts. Brian Yerzak and Michael McPadden. Lewis received the ticket, police said, for entering a restricted area at police headquarters to take pictures of the portable toilets. Lewis fought the ticket in court and was recently found not guilty.

Contributed photo /

SHELTON — Police union representative Michael Lewis has been found not guilty of trespassing on a restricted area of the police headquarters grounds without permission.

Lewis, a retired Shelton police officer hired in May 2020 as the union rep, received a ticket for simple trespass only days after his hiring. Lewis was issued the ticket, a $92 fine, for entering a restricted area and taking pictures, inside and out, of the portable toilets, according to police.

Instead of paying the fine, Lewis said he chose to fight the charge - with his focus on a dismissal or a not guilty verdict.

“I was going to fight this to the end,” Lewis said. “And I won. I was found not guilty.”

Lewis represented himself as the case went to a bench trial. He learned his fate Monday.

“This just shows just because (police Chief Shawn Sequeira) says something happened a certain way does not mean it did,” Lewis said. “People need to keep an open mind when it comes to what they hear (from Sequeira).”

Sequeira did not comment on the judge’s verdict, saying only that “Michael Lewis and any other civilian are welcome to the Shelton PD anytime as long as they have a scheduled appointment confirmed by the chief of police and a proper escort to ensure safety and (remaining) away from restricted areas.

“Following the rules can help him avoid any future conflicts with the policies of the police department,” the chief added.

When he received the infraction, Lewis said it was “retaliation” and “an attempt to keep him quiet” since he had become vocal in the press and on social media about the department’s decision to shut down all non-essential access to headquarters, which includes inside bathroom usage and locker room access.

Sequeira responded at the time at Lewis was in a police-use only, restricted zone.

“You can’t just walk freely through a restricted area, definitely not during a pandemic,” he said. “No one is above the law, not even a union rep. No one.”

Lewis said he left messages for Sequeira and contacted police dispatchers to inform them of his intentions to be on site to photograph the interior and exterior of the portable toilets. Lewis said he has the right, as union rep, to be at headquarters as long as he does not hinder normal operations.

Sequeira said neither he nor the dispatchers were alerted to Lewis’ plans. He said the dispatchers observed an individual — later identified as Lewis — drive into the back restricted lot, park his vehicle, get out and enter the portable toilets.

The chief said the dispatcher noted Lewis had no gloves or mask on and immediately contacted command staff with the report. There are numerous signs stating the area is restricted, he said.

At that time, Sequeira said, considering Lewis’ past association with the department and his status as a retired officer, supervisors chose to issue a simple trespass ticket as opposed to an arrest for criminal trespass.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com