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Appeal hearing over terminated Cedar Rapids Police Officer ends, closing arguments to be made at later time

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:37 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The second day of the virtual appeal hearing over the firing of former Cedar Rapids Police Sgt. Lucas Jones wrapped up Wednesday evening.

Jones was fired in June of 2020, for what the Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said was a violation of rules and policies. Jones claims his firing was politically motivated and he also wasn’t given fair due process.

In 2016, he shot and paralyzed Jerime Mitchell, a black driver Jones pulled over. The two fought and Mitchell drove away before Jones fired at him, but police said something Jones did the day before led to his firing.

The focus of an internal investigation in CRPD wasn’t about the shooting incident involving Mitchell and Jones, but a stop that happened the day before in October of 2016. That’s when Jones pulled over a suspended driver and during that stop, his body microphone was either turned off or went dead. The police department said Jones said in a 2016 internal interview he didn’t know why the microphone went off. Later in January of 2020, Jones said in a deposition about the Mitchell shooting, he did in fact turn the microphone off himself, doing so to conceal breaking a department policy.

Jerman said the conflicting responses break with department policies around truthfulness. Jones claims he answered “yes” to being asked if he turned off the microphone in that deposition because the process was stressful and he wanted to move on. Jones said he was berated for hours in the deposition. Jones said in his testimony that he never intended to lie while under oath.

Also in the hearing Wednesday, Jones said he requested information from the internal investigation and was denied, not giving him his right to due process. The attorney for the police department then referred to Iowa Code 80F, which he said notes the officer under investigation is not entitled to some investigative information until after disciplinary action is taken.

Jerman was also questioned about calls in the public to fire Jones in the height of Black Lives Matter protests in Cedar Rapids. At one point in the hearing, Jerman said he never once felt the pressure to do so, despite those calls, even at protest events he attended.

Jones also said in his testimony that Jerman sits on a board with Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker, who has publicly called for Jones' firing following the shooting incident in 2016 involving Mitchell.

The attorney for CRPD said, however, the investigation into Jones making false statements began months before Black Lives Matter protests in the city and the death of George Floyd. The department’s disciplinary board also made its recommendations to the Chief to terminate Jones' position before that time.

Jones also testified that he complained to the CRPD deputy chief on February 17, 2020, about a police captain violating policy, by not wearing body armor and not carrying less than lethal weapons while in uniform. Jones then said the next day he was notified of the internal affairs investigation related to him, suggesting it was retaliation for his complaint against the captain.

The CRPD attorney references a department code that since the captain in question is an administration officer, he has an exception to wearing body armor. The deputy chief also testified he was out of state the same day Jones said he made the complaint to him. The deputy chief said Jones made the complaint the next day, when the investigation began, and the complaint had nothing to do with the investigation opening into Jones.

The hearing closed Wednesday with attorneys being directed to submit written closing arguments to the City Services Commission, the group that will decide if Jones is granted to return to the department. A deadline for those statements has not yet been made public.

It’s also not yet known when the commission will release their decision.

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