Fired Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones plans to appeal, claims chief caved

Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 11:33 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Former Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones said he plans to appeal his termination, saying the police chief caved to political pressure in firing him.

“I have served this city honorably and with great pride,” Jones said in a statement to KCRG-TV9. “I refuse to continue to allow a false narrative about me be disseminated.”

Jones said he was terminated for lying to Internal Affairs but was not told what that lie was. He also said he passed a polygraph test to prove he did not lie to Internal Affairs but that those results were dismissed. He said he is retaining a lawyer and plans to appeal within the 14-days allowed by law. That appeal will trigger an administrative hearing on Jones’ termination.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department announced Jones was terminated Thursday for violating department policy but refused to give specifics. KCRG-TV9 has filed an open records request to get the full “reasons and rationale” for termination of a public employee that is required to be public record under Iowa law.

Police said the investigation into Jones began in February 2020 and Jones says he was placed on administrative leave in early May, before the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis triggered protests. Jones, however, believes the ongoing climate contributed to the decision to fire him.

“The protests for Mr. Floyd are just. What the officer did in Minneapolis is disgusting and disgraceful,” Jones said. “But to see the chief cave to political pressure from a small group who hijacked the protests for Mr. Floyd for their own gain is beyond comprehension.”

Removing Officer Jones from the Cedar Rapids Police Department was a demand of organizers behind recent Black Lives Matter protests in Cedar Rapids. A petition on to fire Officer Jones had garnered nearly 2,000 signatures as of Thursday.

While on the force, Officer Jones was cleared in two separate officer-involved shootings, including one that paralyzed Jerime Mitchell, a Black man, during a traffic stop. In that incident in November 2016, Officer Jones stopped Mitchell and attempted to arrest him for marijuana possession. A struggle ensued and Mitchell started to drive away with Jones stuck in the door. Jones fired his service weapon, paralyzing Mitchell, who then crashed into parked vehicles in a Coe College campus parking lot.

A grand jury declined to press charges against Jones in that shooting, despite Linn County Attorney Jerry Vandersanden presenting the case without interviewing Mitchell. That result prompted public protests against both the Cedar Rapids police and the Linn County Attorney. Mitchell is now suing the City of Cedar Rapids, the police department, and Lucas Jones. That case is not expected to go to trial until next year.

Mitchell spoke during one of those protests about the need for police reform.

“Because I fear for my life too, just like you do,” Mitchell told a crowd. “The only difference is you have a badge, so you use that badge as protection and you use those words for protection even though you know you’ve messed up.”

Officer Jones was also cleared for his involvement in the fatal shooting of Jonathan Gossman in October 2015. Gossman had run from police during a traffic stop and pointed a gun at another officer. That’s when that officer and Jones opened fire, killing Gossman. The use of force was ruled justified in that case.

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