Public Safety

Letter: Fired Cop Lucas Jones turned off microphone and lied about it

City document outlines traffic stop two days before Jerime Mitchell was shot

A still from a Cedar Rapids police video shows the Nov. 1, 2016, traffic stop of Jerime Mitchell. (Image taken from vide
A still from a Cedar Rapids police video shows the Nov. 1, 2016, traffic stop of Jerime Mitchell. (Image taken from video)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Police Officer Lucas Jones deliberately disabled a microphone that would have recorded his interactions with a driver during an Oct. 30, 2016, traffic stop, a document released Monday shows — raising questions about the traffic stop he made two days later that culminated in him shooting a Black motorist.

Jones, who was fired this month from the Cedar Rapids force but said he would appeal, shot and paralyzed Jerime Mitchell in a traffic stop early Nov. 1, 2016, on lower Coe Road NE.

Authorities said Jones saw that the license plate lights on Mitchell’s pickup truck were out and so pulled him over. An altercation ensued between the men before Mitchell drove off with Jones hanging on the driver’s side door. Jones shot Mitchell three times and he crashed.

Although police later said Mitchell was in possession of marijuana, a scale and cash, 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 of the incident police later released is video and audio from the dashboard camera in Jones’ cruiser,

It shows the men scrambling on the ground and Jones’ police dog. In the video, Mitchell gets back in the truck and drives away, but with the officer now stuck on the door.

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Because Jones’ microphone wasn’t working, there is no verifiable account of their conversation. The dashcam captured only snippets that were loud enough.

Jones maintained that Mitchell was hostile from the start of the traffic stop, cursing him out.

Mitchell maintained that Jones ordered his police dog to “kill” him. The city has denied that, saying it might have been a misunderstanding of the word “stellen” — a Dutch language command used in training that directs a police dog to apprehend a suspect.

Mitchell and his wife have filed a lawsuit against Jones and the city of Cedar Rapids for negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium. The case has not gone to trial.

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 refused to provide 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 does not give many details of that traffic stop, but does outline 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.”

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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.

The remaining violations state Jones lied to the department’s internal investigators on April 13, 2017, and again Feb. 20.

Last weekend, Jones told The Gazette his termination was the result of Police Chief Wayne Jerman caving to political pressure.

People protesting racial injustice had been calling for Jones to be fired just days before the department announced the termination.

Jones denied ever having been dishonest, stating he had gone as far as to take a polygraph test.

“If someone accuses you of lying, the only way to prove that you didn’t lie is to get an objective piece of evidence proving that,” he told The Gazette on June 19. “So I took it upon myself to take a polygraph, and the polygraph examiner asked me directly, ‘Have you ever lied to internal affairs?’ and I said ‘no,’ and it came back truthful. And (the examiner) said (my answer) scored at the highest possible score as being truthful.”

Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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