Florida woman fired after posing as fall victim’s cousin

Southeast

Close up view of the Orlando Free Fall at ICON Park on Friday, March 25, 2022 in Orlando, Fla. A 14-year-old boy fell to his death from a ride at an amusement park in Orlando, sheriff’s officials said. Sheriff’s officials and emergency crews responded to a call late Thursday at Icon Park, which is located in the city’s tourist district along International Drive. The boy fell from the Orlando Free Fall ride, which opened late last year. (Willie J. Allen Jr. /Orlando Sentinel via AP)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida woman who claimed to be the cousin of fall victim Tyre Sampson was fired from her job after being exposed as an alleged fraud, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

Sampson, 14, fell to his death from a drop tower ride at Orlando’s ICON Park on March 24.

The next day, Shay Johnson reportedly appeared at Sampson’s memorial in a T-shirt with his photo on the front. She was holding a sign that said his life mattered and gave interviews with multiple news outlets, speaking as a representative of his family, according to the Sentinel.

“We want justice,” she said.

She also claimed she spoke to Tyre on that tragic day.

“He said he wanted to ride the swing on International,” she told reporters. “I said, ‘OK. Ride it twice and ride it for me, too.’”

But her story started to unravel following investigations by the Sentinel and WFTV.

Johnson’s real name is Lewishena Lavonia Browning, 32, and Sampson’s family doesn’t know who she is, the Sentinel reported.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office told WFTV that Sampson’s mother denied knowing Browning, and an attorney representing the family confirmed they were not related.

Officials say the case has not risen to the level of a crime, therefore no charges have been filed at this time. But Browning is still dealing with the consequences of her actions.

According to the Sentinel, Browning was fired from her job at an adult entertainment club in Orlando, where she worked for five years.

The owner of Flash Dancers, William Sierer, called her behavior “unconscionable.”

”I feel terrible about it,” he told the newspaper.

Sierer said surveillance video from the club shows Browning working the night Sampson died, and on the day after his death.

Sierer said others at the club had expressed concerns about Browning’s behavior, but he “didn’t really see it coming.”

According to the Sentinel, Browning is awaiting trial for arson after allegedly setting a car on fire in August. She has previous arrests for domestic violence and driving with a suspended or revoked license, and provided a false name and ID to police during a traffic stop in April.

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