Public Safety

Sgt. Lucas Jones says police chief 'caved to political pressure' in firing him

Protesters were demanding the Cedar Rapids officer be ousted

CEDAR RAPIDS — Police Sgt. Lucas Jones was “completely shocked” when a lieutenant told him he was no longer employed with the city department, the officer who has become a lightning rod for protesters said Friday in an interview with The Gazette.

“It’s definitely been difficult,” Jones said in his first extensive public remarks since he shot and wounded a Black motorist during a 2016 traffic stop, after which he was cleared by a grand jury. “It’s been really hurtful just because, you know, I gave nine years to Cedar Rapids with no issues at all. You know, I’ve never done anything but serve honorably — I’ve gotten lifesaving awards and I (was) getting a lot of satisfaction helping the people of Cedar Rapids, and then to have a chief cave to political pressure like that, just to appease the people above him, is pretty sad.”

In announcing Jones’ firing Thursday, the police department said it had started an inquiry into him in February but didn’t disclose the nature of the concern.

Jones said that in May, he was given a “notice of allegation” that accused him of lying to internal affairs during an investigation — though there were no specifics about what the incident was, he said. Jones said he took it upon himself to prove he had not lied in any investigations.

“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 said. “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.”

But just to be sure, Jones said he took the test four times.

“And then when I had my meeting with the chief, I told him that I would take another polygraph — even offered to take one that he arranged,” Jones said. “I would take one at the police department with any polygraph examiner he wanted to prove to him that I have never, ever lied, ever in my job, especially to internal affairs. And when I presented him that evidence, he obviously considered it not important, which is insane because we use the polygraph when we hire police officers.”

Jones said he believes Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman gave into pressure from city officials. The department said Thursday Jones was fired “for violating rules and policies” but gave no details.

Jones’ ouster has been called for by racial justice protest organizers over a 2016 shooting during a traffic stop that left Black motorist Jerime Mitchell of Cedar Rapids mostly paralyzed.

Jones also was one of two city officers involved in the Oct. 20, 2015, fatal shooting of Jonathan T. Grossman, 21.

The Linn County Attorney’s Office and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation cleared him in the Grossman shooting, and a Linn County grand jury declined to file any charges in the Mitchell case.

“I was cleared by a grand jury,” he said. “And I think lot of people don’t understand what that means. You know, a grand jury is made up of citizens who live in Cedar Rapids, who are of all different backgrounds — including different racial backgrounds — and they heard my story and they saw the evidence and they agreed with me, obviously, that my actions were right.”

Jones said he plans to appeal his termination.

“This is going to be litigated,” he said. “I’m absolutely not going to let a false narrative stand, and I’m not going to let the chief sully my good name and reputation that I worked so hard for.”

Ultimately, Jones said he hopes to be able to return to law enforcement.

“I absolutely want to go back to policing, because policing is something that’s just in somebody’s DNA,” he said. “When you have that inherent desire to make your community better and help people, which I do, policing is a natural fit, and I don’t want to let some issues with poor leadership take away from the work the officers here do every day. I’ve seen cops at this department do incredible things, and I’m humbled honored to work with those people.

“And I think for a long time the administration has been able to get away with things because they operate in their own bubble, but drawing attention to it and making the city aware, I think will set things right.”

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

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