Fired Cedar Rapids Police officer Lucas Jones will have his day in virtual court this week as the appeal of his termination goes before the city’s Civil Service Committee.
Despite objections from Jones and his attorney Skylar Limkemann, the appeal hearing will be held entirely online starting Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. The hearing is expected to take two days and the proceedings will be live streamed on the city’s Facebook page.
Jones — the white police officer who shot and paralyzed Jerime Mitchell, a Black Cedar Rapids resident, during a traffic stop in 2016 — is appealing his firing in June, saying the process violated his right to due process.
Should the appeal go in his favor, Jones has said he intends to return to police work.
A former patrol sergeant, Jones was fired after an investigation into an Oct. 30, 2016 traffic stop allegedly revealed he had deliberately disabled his body-worn microphone during his interactions with the driver, raising questions about the traffic stop involving Mitchell that occurred two days later.
Jones stopped Mitchell early Nov. 1, 2016, on lower Coe Road NE. Jones was a K-9 officer at the time.
Authorities said Jones initiated the stop because the pickup truck’s license plate was not lit. An altercation ensued between the men and Mitchell drove off with Jones hanging on the driver’s side door. Jones shot Mitchell three times and the vehicle crashed.
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Police later said Mitchell was in possession of marijuana, a scale and cash, but he was not charged. A grand jury looking into the shooting cleared Jones.
Jones’ microphone in the Mitchell traffic stop was not working, either, though police have yet to give the public a full account as to why it wasn’t. The only recording released of the incident is video and audio from the dashboard camera in Jones’ cruiser, which was only able to capture audio from inside Jones’ cruiser.
The termination letter sent to Jones — dated June 18 — does not mention Mitchell but hints at a larger pattern.
The police department said Jones was fired after a monthslong investigation into accusations that he had violated department rules and policies. The department declined to give more details, citing personnel issues.
However, the letter of termination — obtained by The Gazette through an open records request — shows those violations included lying under oath to internal investigators about the Oct. 30, 2016, traffic stop.
The letter outlines six violations.
One states Jones testified under oath during a Jan. 16 deposition that he “intentionally turned off his audio recording microphone to conceal that he was (intentionally) violating policy,” during that October traffic stop.
Another violation states that Jones failed to “impound or arrest the driver (referring to the same traffic stop) as the Cedar Rapids Police Department required.”
When asked about those issues during the January deposition, Jones “made statements that he would knowingly violate department policy as he sees fit,” according to the letter.
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The remaining violations state Jones lied to the department’s internal investigators on April 13, 2017, and again Feb. 20.
Jones and his attorney have denied the allegations, claiming the ex-officer’s termination was retaliation for a memo Jones wrote outlining sexual harassment complaints from two female officers regarding another male officer.
Jones also found the timing of his termination suspect, stating his firing was the result of Police Chief Wayne Jerman “caving to political pressure” as protests raged across The Corridor and the nation following the death of George Floyd — a Black Minnesota man who died when a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
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