Public Safety

Ousted Cedar Rapids Officer Lucas Jones appeals to judge after city panel upheld his termination

Department denies his claim firing was to appease protesters

Former Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones testifies last September during a virtual hearing before the Cedar Rapids
Former Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones testifies last September during a virtual hearing before the Cedar Rapids Civil Service Committee over his termination. (Screen capture)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Lucas Jones, the Cedar Rapids police officer who was fired last summer after the department said he violated policy and lied under oath, has appealed to a judge the decision from a city panel to uphold his termination.

The appeal, filed Jan. 4 in Linn County District Court, offers little information but says Jones “appeals the Cedar Rapids Civil Service Commission’s ruling and decision, filed December 4, 2020, which upheld the termination of his employment as a police Sergeant for the City of Cedar Rapids by Chief of Police Wayne Jerman.”

The appeal seeks to have the commission’s ruling reversed and Jones reinstated with back pay, in addition to “relief the court deems equitable and just.”

Jones’ attorney, Skylar Limkemann, said he was not available to comment on the appeal.

Jones was fired June 18 after the department said an internal investigation revealed he violated policy during a traffic stop on Oct. 30, 2016, and then lied about it.

The traffic stop that led to the firing came just two days before Jones shot and paralyzed motorist Jerime Mitchell, also during a traffic stop.

In the October traffic stop in question, Jones had pulled over a woman in a sport utility vehicle. A check of her record showed she had a suspended license.

But instead of arresting her and impounding the SUV as required, Jones let her go.

Jones testified in September during a two-day hearing before the city’s Civil Service Commission to appeal his termination that the woman had no outstanding arrest warrants or significant criminal history and he didn’t see her as a threat to the community.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The traffic stop, however, was called into question when Jones’ body-worn microphone cut out, making it impossible to hear what transpired during part of it.

Roughly 36 hours later — in the early morning of Nov. 1, 2016 — Jones shot Mitchell in an altercation during a stop near Coe College. Authorities said Jones, who is white, stopped Mitchell, who is Black, after spotting a light out on the pickup truck’s license plate.

A fight ensued and Mitchell drove away with Jones caught on the door. Jones shot Mitchell three times.

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.

Similarly to the Oct. 30 traffic stop, Jones’ body-worn microphone also cut out during the stop with Mitchell — calling into question whether it malfunctioned or was deliberately turned off.

That microphone and what the department called inconsistencies in Jones’ statements about why it did not work were at the heart of its internal investigation.

The termination letter outlines several violations, most significantly that Jones lied during an internal affairs investigation and also under oath during a deposition over the Mitchell shooting.

According to the police department, Jones initially denied knowing why his microphone failed in that Oct, 30, 2016, stop. But in January 2020 — more than three years later — he testified in a disposition on the Mitchell shooting that he had knowingly turned it off.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The department said Jones also violated policy by not arresting the driver with a suspended license and impounding the SUV, a decision the department said he did not have discretion over.

Last summer, after Minnesota man George Floyd was killed by police there, local protesters called for Jones’ ouster because of the Mitchell shooting.

Jones has asserted he was let go to appease protesters and city leaders.

Chief Jerman testified in the September hearing that Jones’ termination had nothing to do with the Mitchell case and that the investigation into Jones began well before Floyd’s death.

In February 2017, Mitchell and his wife, Bracken, sued Jones and the city over the shooting. Jones and the city have denied the claims and the case hasn’t gone to trial yet.

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.