From [HERE] and [HERE] Jerime Mitchell, a Black man, is suing white Cedar Rapids Officer Lucas Jones and the city over the altercation that left him paralyzed from the neck down on November 1. Court documents filed in Linn County show he is suing for negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium.
The details in the lawsuit paint a much different picture of the interaction between Officer Jones and Mitchell than the one presented by Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden in announcing neither Mitchell nor Jones would face charges in the case. Vander Sanden, in photo below, is white.
Mitchell was wounded and paralyzed from the shooting, causing his car to crash into other vehicles. A dash camera captured video of the encounter but a broken microphone of Officer Jones left little audio on the recording. The police did not explain how or when the microphone became broken.
The audio is important because the racist suspect cop claims the following; cop said he smelled marijuana after pulling Mitchell over for a burnt out light, later found in the vehicle along with evidence of intent to sell. Jones claimed he got stuck between the open door and truck, and asked Mitchell to stop but he accelerated instead, and Jones feared for his life so he fired three shots at Mitchell’s head. Mitchell, family members and the NAACP disagree with this version of the story. [MORE]
A grand jury ruled Officer Jones' actions were justified and Vander Sanden [racist suspect in photo below] declined to press charges against Mitchell, too.
The lawsuit first questions the reasons Officer Jones stopped Mitchell, arguing "Officer Lucas Jones had no legitimate, articulable reason for initiating the traffic stop." Police have said the stop was for a broken license plate light. However, the lawsuit claims the light was working. It also notes Officer Jones accelerated and ran a stop sign in pursuit of Mitchell from more than a quarter mile away, when a license plate light would not be visible.
The suit argues that Mitchell was never informed of a “true, real and legitimate reason” why he was being pulled over, and that he was never told he was being arrested despite Mitchell repeatedly asking what he had done wrong.
In dash camera video of the incident, after the stop, the white cop orders him out of the vehicle and immediately turns him around to face the car to handcuff him. Mitchell turns to say something to the cop and the cop forcefully pushes him into the car to finish handcuffing him - as his hands are behind his back. Mitchell and the officer get into a struggle. The officer takes him to the ground. At no time does Mitchell attempt to hit or kick the cop. He simply tries to get free. While doing so a police dog runs into the scene and begins to attack Mitchell. Mitchell gets into his car and the officer grabs him and clings on to him- holding onto him as he sits back in the driver seat. Mitchell begins to drive away. The cop could have let go but held on to the car before it begins to move forward. As the car begins to move forward the cop then shoots him multiple times.
The lawsuit claims Officer Jones never told Mitchell he was being arrested or the reasons he was being detained. It also claims Jones used force against Mitchell without justification or probable cause.
During the scuffle, the lawsuit claims Mitchell repeatedly asked Officer Jones what he did and called for him to stop.
The lawsuit claims Officer Jones told Mitchell "I'm going to kill you, man" while his gun was aimed. At this point, the suit claims, Mitchell attempted to escape to his car. As Mitchell pulled away, the officer fired, and one of the bullets hit Mitchell, causing him to become paralyzed and lose control of the car, crashing into nearby vehicles before being taken into custody.
The lawsuit claims Officer Jones' use of force was excessive and unprovoked.
Officer Jones is still on paid administrative leave and has been since the shooting.
The lawsuit claims Mitchell "suffered and will continue to suffer great physical and emotional pain and suffering". It does not ask for a specific amount in damages.
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden presented a much different picture of what happened in announcing a grand jury declined to press charges against Officer Jones. Investigators did not talk to Jones before that case was presented to the Grand Jury. During a press conference last December, Vander Sanden described Mitchell as combative with Officer Jones, quoting Mitchell as yelling obscenities. He also noted Mitchell was found with marijuana in the car and in his system.
KCRG spoke with former Chicago Police Superintendent and trainer in use of force for the FBI Richard Brzeczek shortly after the dash camera video was released. He said any type of pulling away from a police officer can be construed as resisting arrest. Brzeczek says police are trained to use any force needed to stop someone from resisting arrest.
"The law says the officer needs to employ superior force, whatever that means, but force greater than is being used against him to make sure the arrest is not defeated," said Brzeczek. "Because, if what may be suggested by people is 'why didn't the officer back off?' now what you're going to have is chaos on the streets."
The Mitchells’ suit also alleges that the city of Cedar Rapids “knew or should have know that Officer Lucas Jones’ had a propensity to use excessive force and did nothing to protect the public,” in reference to Jones’ role in the October 20, 2015 fatal officer-involved shooting of Jonathan Gossman, also a Black man. The suit describes the incident, saying Gossman attempted to flee but had not assaulted the officers involved when officer Jones fired 16 shots at him. Gossman had drawn a gun, however no proof was found that he fired it. The officers involved were cleared in the case.
Following both incidents, Jones was placed on temporary paid administrative leave while the incidents were being investigated, but no charges have been filed against him until now.
The lawsuit also claims the city has not provided records requested as part of the lawsuit but does not specify those records.
KCRG-TV9 spoke to one of the attorneys representing Mitchell Tuesday night. He said a major injustice happened in this case, so legal action is necessary.
The ruling in the Mitchell case raised several heated discussions about race relations in Cedar Rapids. Both the Cedar Rapids Police Chief and the Linn County Attorney faced questions from members of the black community on the handling of the investigation.
Family members have questioned why the case was presented to the Grand Jury before investigators interviewed Mitchell. Vander Sanden told KCRG-TV9 at the time that Mitchell's attorneys had not been responsive with investigators trying to schedule the interview, something Mitchell's family disputes.
A friend of the Mitchells created a GoFundMe to raise money to help with the couple’s medical bills and other expenses.