CEDAR RAPIDS — Nearly a week after he was shot by a Cedar Rapids police officer, Jerime “Danky” Mitchell has had good moments and bad, a family member said Monday.
A home run during Game 7 of the World Series evoked a smile from the die-hard Chicago Cubs fan.
“He was pretty happy about that,” said Jesse Land, Mitchell’s brother-in-law.
But Sunday was another rough day, Land said.
Mitchell, who turns 38 next week, is paralyzed from the neck down, Land said. The family is trying to get him moved out of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to a 24-hour care facility in Cedar Rapids. Mitchell’s paralysis prevents him from swallowing and can make him feel like he’s choking on his own saliva, Land said.
Still, Mitchell — who is communicating through short, whispered phrases and nods of his head — is trying to stay positive, Land said.
“He told my sister he is going to walk out of there,” Land said. “He’s trying to stay positive. It’s a really sad situation.”
Mitchell was shot by Officer Lucas Jones on Tuesday, Nov. 1, according to authorities.
Authorities have said Jones pulled Mitchell over around 1:15 a.m. that day on the lower part of Coe Road NE in Cedar Rapids. The reason for the stop has not been disclosed.
Land said Mitchell has communicated some details about his version of what happened next. Mitchell, Land said, offered to give Jones his license and registration, but Jones instead ordered him out of the car. Authorities have said an altercation ensued and at some point Jones fired his service weapon, the bullet striking Mitchell. Mitchell’s family has said the bullet entered Mitchell’s neck and was lodged in his spine.
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Land, 39, of Cedar Rapids — who was not present for the shooting — couldn’t speak to what happened between Mitchell and Jones, but doesn’t think his brother-in-law ever got out of the car.
“He never even got his seat belt off, I don’t believe,” Land said.
Police said Mitchell drove on after the shooting and crashed into an unmarked Cedar Rapids police SUV before hitting a parked car. Land is attributing the crashes to the injuries Mitchell sustained.
“When the bullet hit the spine, everything went tense,” he said. “He couldn’t steer out of the way because he couldn’t move.”
The officer in the SUV had to be extricated, according to authorities. He was treated and released from a hospital. Jones was not seriously injured in the incident, police said.
Mitchell was taken into custody and transported to the UIHC. Police have not said what, if any, charges he could face.
Mitchell has told his family to get dash camera footage of the exchange between him and Jones, Land said. Police have confirmed a dash camera was in use at the time of the traffic stop, but have said the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation — the agency investigating the officer-involved shooting — is to review that footage and turn it over to the Linn County Attorney’s Office, which is to determine whether Jones’ actions were justified.
“As with any investigation, there is a legal process that must be followed with regards to the collection, review and analysis of evidence,” Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said last week.
Rick Rahn, DCI special agent in charge of the investigation, said he doesn’t have a timeline for when the investigation may be completed, but investigators are “working hard” to get it done.
“We’re getting there, I can tell you that,” Rahn said Monday.
Land said it’s unlikely Mitchell was carrying a weapon.
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“Absolutely not. No way,” he said. “I think if you handed him a gun and said, ‘Shoot it,’ he’d probably hand it right back to you. I would almost bet money he’s never shot a gun.”
Jones — who was involved in the fatal Oct. 20, 2015 shooting of Jonathan Gossman and determined to be justified in his use of force — remains on paid administrative leave in accordance with department policy.