TV-9 exclusive: Jerime Mitchell talks Officer Lucas Jones firing, police brutality in America
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - In an exclusive interview, the Cedar Rapids man left paralyzed after an officer involved shooting nearly four years ago says he’s happy the officer who shot him is no longer on the police force.
Cedar Rapids police announced Sergeant Lucas Jones was fired last week for violating department policy but refused to explain more. Jones told KCRG-TV9 he was told it was for lying to internal affairs, but he says he was never told what he lied about.
Jones denies lying at all and plans to appeal. Jones was cleared in two shootings while on duty about a year apart.
The most infamous was this one in November 2016. Jones had stopped Jerime Mitchell in a traffic stop near Coe College. He tried to arrest him for marijuana possession but a fight ensued.
Mitchell tried to drive away with Officer Jones stuck in the door. Jones shot Mitchell, paralyzing him. A grand jury declined to press charges against Jones. Now, Jerime Mitchell is speaking exclusively to KCRG-TV9's Phil Reed about Jones' firing and his voice in the ongoing calls for reforms nationwide.
Mitchell says he recognizes he has a rare perspective on the issues of race and police brutality. That's why he's choosing to speak up now, when he sees the need for change nationally and here in Cedar Rapids.
“I’m a rare case because I’m actually still alive to tell my side of the story,” said Mitchell. Five days a week Jerime Mitchell is in rehab, learning to manage a life he never imagined four years ago.
“Even though I’m still alive, my life is still not the same,” said Mitchell. “I can’t hug my family or hug my wife.”
Mitchell still blames Jones for how he now lives. That's why he's suing him and Cedar Rapids Police. So while he's glad to see Jones go, he wonders why it took nearly four years.
“Very strange that a cop shoots two people within a year,” said Mitchell. “That’s not heard of. It really hasn’t been heard of in Cedar Rapids.”
He and his attorney Larry Rogers Jr. are now shifting their attention to Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden. Vander Sanden ended the investigation after about a month without ever talking to Mitchell.
"How can you convene a grand jury and not get my side of the story, and just basically present him," he said. Vander Sanden said at the time Mitchell was not available. His lawyers say that's because he was still getting medical treatment.
“Jerry Vander Sanden is equally as responsible as Lucas Jones,” said Larry Rogers Jr. “And the protest should not stop, until he is held accountable. Removed from office.”
Mitchell is paying attention to the recent officer involved shootings of black people across the country and the calls for police reform. He spoke at a rally more than two weeks ago in Cedar Rapids, and plans to use his voice more to call for change.
“You don’t have to shoot to kill. You don’t have to do all that,” said Mitchell. “It’s like cops who come in with that attitude, well I have a badge, I could do whatever I want to do with you, and you can’t do nothing because I have this badge, it’s not good for policing, it’s not good for the community.”
He say it’s not just police. He’s also concerned about the recent spike in shootings and murders in Cedar Rapids. “It’s one thing that we’re doing this to ourselves, and another thing from what the police is doing,” he said. “It just all needs to stop, and we can all do better.” Coivd-19 has delayed Mitchell’s lawsuit against the city. They’re hoping to get a trial date sometime next year.
In response Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden sent a statement to TV-9: “As you know, the Iowa DCI was called in to conduct an independent investigation into the shooting involving Jeremy Mitchell. As part of their investigation, they made multiple efforts to talk with Jerime Mitchell about the incident.
Each time, they were prevented from talking to Mr. Mitchell, either by family members or his attorneys. It is also my understanding DCI agents continued their efforts to take a statement from Jerime Mitchell even after the grand jury concluded but were refused an interview.
It was unfortunate the Iowa DCI was unable to talk with Mr. Mitchell but the agents involved were diligent in their efforts to do so as part of their investigation The decision was made to proceed with the grand jury given that the entire incident was recorded by the officer’s squad car video camera.
I appreciate Mr. Mitchell’s invitation to talk about the matter but must respectfully decline at this time due to the ongoing civil litigation in his case.”
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