The family of a paralyzed drug dealer who was shot in a fight with a police officer is very angry that the officer is not being charged for protecting himself from their criminal relative.
Dash camera footage of the officer-involved shooting of Jerime Mitchell has been made public.
The release of the footage comes after weeks of calls for its disclosure by family, friends and supporters of Mitchell. Cedar Rapids officials have maintained they would release the video at the conclusion of the investigation into the shooting. On Tuesday, Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden announced a grand jury found Officer Lucas Jones was justified in his use of deadly force and said video of the incident would be released after Mitchell’s family had a chance to review it.
The Iowa-Nebraska NAACP and its Cedar Rapids branch, along with Mitchell’s family and concerned citizens, plan to host a news conference “to address numerous concerns raised after the viewing of the video,” according to a news release. The news conference is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the African-American Museum of Iowa in Cedar Rapids.
Jones shot Mitchell in the early morning hours of Nov. 1 following a traffic stop on the lower part of Coe Road NE. While the grand jury proceedings are not public, Vander Sanden did share some details of the investigation on Tuesday:
— Jones pulled Mitchell over due to his license plate lights being out. When Jones approached Mitchell’s truck, he smelled marijuana.
— A conversation between Jones and Mitchell took place, the details of which Mitchell has disputed. No audio of their interaction exists. Eventually, Mitchell got out of his truck.
— An altercation between the two men ensued when Jones tried to place Mitchell in handcuffs.
— Mitchell tried to get into his truck and leave, but Jones held on and somehow became caught between the open door and truck. Jones told Mitchell to stop, but he accelerated instead.
— Fearing for his life, Jones pulled his service weapon with his free arm and fired three shots at Mitchell’s head. One hit Mitchell in the neck, paralyzing him. Jones then broke free and fell backward.
— Mitchell, now incapacitated, continued on Coe Road before striking a police SUV and parked cars. Officers and paramedics administered aid to Mitchell.
— A pound of marijuana, scales and cash were later found in the truck. Mitchell’s phone also contained text messages that indicated he was ready to make a drug deal before he was stopped.
In a statement released Wednesday, Mitchell said the version of events presented Tuesday were untrue and that he was attacked without provocation.
Let’s go to the tape shall we?
Officer Lucas Jones tried to take Jerime Mitchell into custody after catching a whiff of the mobile Bob Marley concert Mitchell was transporting, and then Mitchell starting fighting with officer Jones.
The flight quickly went to the ground. As they struggled to their feet, Lucas deployed his K-9 thanks to a nifty little door remote on his belt.
Officer Jones was still struggling to take Jerime Mitchell into custody as Mitchell managed to get back in his truck and put it in gear. Pinned against the door while struggling with Mitchell and yelling at him to stop, Jones reaches for his gun (above).
As Mitchell begins to drive away, Officer Jones pulls his gun and fires the first of three shots.
You’ll note that the vehicle is in motion and pulling away when Officer Lucas is firing as Mitchell is driving off. Officer Jones fires his third and final shot as he’s extricating himself and starting to come back out of the vehicle (560).
Officer Jones hits the road a good 20-30 yards (it’s hard to tell because of the camera down the road (above) as Mitchell accelerates over the crest of the hill, eventually crashing.
Like so many officer-involved shootings that have drawn the attention of Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, the evidence shows that the officer was justified in his use of force. Jerime Mitchell’s decision to fight Officer Jones instead of being arrested peacefully led this turn of events. Specifically, Jerime Mitchell’s decision to try to drive off while dragging an officer turned resisting arrest into a deadly force encounter that justified Officer Jones discharging his service weapon.
Jerime Mitchell was a criminal who abused drugs, apparently dealt drugs, and made bad choices that involved putting the lives of other people at risk.
Mitchell, of course, claims he was an innocent victim of police abuse.
Mitchell, in his statement sent to The Gazette through his attorney, said Jones changed his story about why he pulled him over after Mitchell stepped out of his truck and Jones “became combative toward me.” Mitchell said he would never curse like Jones claimed at anyone, “let alone a police officer.”
“I was frightened, and decided it was in my best interest to get back in my truck,” Mitchell said. “At that point, Officer Jones got even more aggressive towards me and slammed me against the truck, then without provocation from me, he tackled me to the ground and released his dog who started attacking me.”
Mitchell said he was scared and knew he had to get back in his truck to get away from the dog and this is when Jones “jumped on me and shot me while I was in my truck.”
“I realized I was shot and needed to get to the hospital immediately and that is when I accelerated,” Mitchell said. “Immediately after, I lost control because his bullet paralyzed me. I was unarmed. I never struck the officer, or the dog. This has changed my life forever…he shot to kill me. No one should ever be treated the way I was that night.”
Maybe, then, you shouldn’t try to drag a cop to his death?