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NAACP says grand jury didn't get to hear both sides

(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 6, 2016 at 7:04 PM CST
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Protesters have been calling for answers in the weeks since a Cedar Rapids Police officer shot and paralyzed a man during a November 1 traffic stop near Coe College.

They got some of those answers Tuesday with Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden's announcement that a grand jury thought there should be no charges against the officer. But supporters want more answers.

Tuesday at a news conference, Vander Sanden described what happened on November 1. He said Officer Lucas Jones stopped Jerime Mitchell because of a broken license plate light.

Officer Jones says he smelled marijuana from Mitchell's vehicle and found a pound of marijuana and a scale.

Officer Jones says Mitchell was combative with him and fought back when he tried to handcuff him. Vander Sanden says Mitchell was able to get back in his vehicle and start to drive off with Officer Jones hanging from the vehicle. That's when Officer Jones fired three shots, hitting Mitchell once in the neck, leaving him paralyzed.

There were about five people sitting in on the news conference Tuesday who had many questions for Vander Sanden. They questioned why investigators never spoke with Mitchell before presenting the case to the grand jury.

Some said the investigation seemed one-sided, but Vander Sanden said investigators repeatedly reached out to Mitchell's family and attorney to get him to talk. He says investigators still hope to talk with him at some point.

The president of the Cedar Rapids NAACP chapter Dedric Doolin says the investigation is unbalanced without testimony from Mitchell.

"You only got the officer's side of it, and you got a video without words that didn't tell you what else was said. And now I know a lot of people in the community didn't question 'How come the video there was no sound?' A lot of people are gonna wonder that seems pretty convenient," Doolin said.

Doolin says he wants to keep things peaceful but he is concerned.

Supporters of Mitchell met at Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 7 p.m. to discuss the decision.

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