Linn County Metro

Jerime Mitchell and wife sue Cedar Rapids, officer

Lawsuit asserts negligence in traffic-stop shooting

Jerime Mitchell of Cedar Rapids (Family supplied photo)
Jerime Mitchell of Cedar Rapids (Family supplied photo)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Jerime Mitchell and his wife are suing Cedar Rapids police Officer Lucas Jones and the city over a Nov. 1 traffic stop shooting that left Mitchell paralyzed.

According to the lawsuit filed in Linn County, the Mitchells are suing Jones and the city for negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium. The suit asserts Jones and the city were “reckless, willful and wanton” in their actions.

Mitchell “has sustained catastrophic and permanent injuries,” states the lawsuit, which was filed last month. The couple is seeking “an amount in excess of the jurisdictional minimum and up to the maximum recoverable for people with the significant and severe physical, emotional and permanent injuries they sustained.”

 

At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, members approved hiring the local Lynch Dallas law firm for legal counsel.

Beyond that, the city does not comment on pending litigation, Cedar Rapids spokeswoman Maria Johnson said. Jones remains on paid administrative leave, she said, as he has been in the more than four months since the shooting.

 

Early in the morning Nov. 1, Jones pulled over Mitchell’s pickup truck on Coe Road near the Coe College campus.

Authorities said an altercation ensued between the men. Mitchell tried to drive away but, they said, Jones became stuck between an open driver’s side door and the truck. Fearing for his life, Jones shot Mitchell, authorities said, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down.

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The details of the shooting that have been made public have come from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden, who convened a grand jury to investigate. The grand jury found Jones did not break the law when he shot Jones.

A police squad car dashboard camera captured the shooting on video. But the microphone on Jones was not functioning, so audio of what the men said was not recorded.

While Jones was interviewed by the DCI, Mitchell was not.

The DCI has declined to release its investigative file to The Gazette. In a news conference to announce the grand jury’s decision, Vander Sanden said Mitchell was profane and belligerent from the start and attacked the officer. Evidence recovered later, he said, indicated Mitchell was on the verge of making a marijuana deal.

Mitchell and his family have disputed the version of events presented by Vander Sanden, and have questioned why the grand jury received the case before he was interviewed by the DCI.

According to a timeline presented in the lawsuit, Mitchell had finished working a late shift Nov. 1 and was going to check on his mother, who was recovering from a recent stroke.

The lawsuit asserts Jones was driving more than a quarter mile away from Mitchell on Center Point Road and accelerated “without justification or probable cause” to catch up to him.

Jones activated his squad car lights about 1:17 a.m. and stopped Mitchell about 30 seconds later, the suit said.

While authorities have said Jones stopped Mitchell because a license plate light that was out, Mitchell said in the suit it was working.

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“Jones had no legitimate, articulable reason for initiating the traffic stop,” the lawsuit said.

Mitchell provided Jones with his license and registration as requested, the suit said, But then Jones then ordered Mitchell out of his truck and attempted to open the door, according to the lawsuit.

Authorities have said Jones smelled marijuana in Mitchell’s truck. A pound of marijuana, scales and cash were later found in it.

Mitchell asserts in the lawsuit that once he was out of the truck, Jones put him in an arm bar, forced his hands behind his back and pushed him against the truck without being told why he was being detained.

According to the lawsuit, Mitchell can be heard telling Jones to “stop” and asking “What did I do?” Although Jones’ microphone was not working, some sounds were picked up by the video being recorded in the squad car,

The lawsuit states Jones kneed Mitchell and swept him to the ground. Jones, a K-9 officer, then released his police dog. In the suit, Mitchell asserts Jones ordered the dog to “kill him.” Mitchell then retreated to inside his truck, the lawsuit states.

“At no point did (Mitchell) ever grab, push, pull, strike or otherwise touch (Jones) or his canine before the unprovoked and unwarranted attack by (Jones) and his canine,” the lawsuit reads.

Once Mitchell was driving away from the scene with Jones still holding on, Jones — according to the suit — told Mitchell, “I’m going to kill you, man.”

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Mitchell would go on to hit a responding unmarked police sport utility vehicle before crashing into a car in a Coe College parking lot.

This events presented in the lawsuit appear to have come from Mitchell’s own recollections and the dash camera footage. The lawsuit states the city has not provided any “requested records, reports or statements” about the case.

Mitchell has requested a jury to decide the case.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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