The convicted felon who ambushed and shot a Charlotte police officer in Fort Mill in January 2014 after the shooter’s girlfriend lied about him hiding in her home faces 34 years to life in prison after agreeing to plead guilty Friday.
James William Lewis, 33, signed a plea agreement Friday with federal prosecutors admitting that he shot Shane Page on Jan. 7, 2014, federal court documents show. The plea agreement shows that Lewis, known as “Jessie” and “Phoenix,” agreed to a charge that carries a minimum of 25 years to life in prison, which will run consecutive to a 9-year sentence he received after pleading guilty last month to the armed robbery of a restaurant in Pineville, N.C.
Page and a team of federal, state and local agents were part of a violent criminal apprehension team attempting to arrest Lewis for the restaurant robbery. Page entered an upstairs bedroom at the home where Lewis’ girlfriend lived in Fort Mill with her parents.
The girlfriend, Kristie Barratt, 23, repeatedly told officers Lewis was not there, although the two had concocted a plan for him to hide in the attic eaves of her parents’ home until police left. When Barratt went into the bedroom to secure a barking dog before the shooting, she admitted later in court that she saw Lewis crouched with a gun waiting for police to come through the bedroom door, yet did not tell officers that Lewis was waiting to ambush the arresting officers.
Barratt was sentenced in December to two years in prison for lying to police and faces deportation to her native England.
Lewis was shot in the legs by police who returned fire. He has been in federal custody since the shooting.
York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant, whose deputies on the scene that day carried Page out of the home after Lewis shot Page, said that Lewis is a “a menace to society” who tried to kill a police officer and deserves the most severe punishment the law allows.
“I hope that he serves every future day of his life in prison,” Bryant said.
Lewis, from Kings Mountain, N.C., bragged about the Pineville robbery afterward and allegedly said he would die before going back to prison. Lewis has previous convictions for drugs and car theft and was homeless at the time he holed up at his girlfriend’s house to elude capture.
Because Lewis was a convicted felon, he was also barred from possessing a weapon.
Page, a decorated, 18-year veteran of the force, was shot in the shoulder, pelvis and abdomen. He survived but left police work after recovering. Page, a former security detail officer for N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, and the York County deputies involved have received commendations from both South Carolina and North Carolina for their actions.
A hearing on the guilty plea is expected Monday in federal court. Sentencing will be in several weeks.
Lewis also faces attempted murder and weapons charges in York County court, although the agreement states that federal prosecutors will recommend to York County prosecutors that Lewis not face South Carolina state charges for the same offense. Those charges remain pending.
Kevin Brackett, 16th Circuit solicitor who prosecutes York County cases, declined to talk about possible dismissal of the state charges but said that he had been in contact with federal authorities about the case and appreciates the federal prosecutors’ thorough handling of “the egregious shooting of officer Page.”
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065