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Two-day appeal hearing for fired CRPD officer Lucas Jones scheduled to begin Tuesday morning

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Tree of Five Seasons sculpture, Cedar Rapids — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The two-day appeal hearing for fired Cedar Rapids police officer Lucas Jones is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning. Both days of the hearing will begin at 9 a.m. and will be streamed on the city’s Facebook page.

The three-member Civil Service Commission will hear from lawyers and witnesses via Zoom.

Jones’s lawyer Skylar Limkemann and the lawyers representing the Cedar Rapids Police Department said their respective clients would prefer an in-person hearing. The lawyers filed a joint motion in August to delay the hearing in hopes of having it in person.

The commission met on Sept. 11 to discuss whether an in-person hearing was something they were comfortable with. All three commissioners were concerned over the increased cases of COVID-19 in Linn County and voted to keep the hearing all online — the same decision they made at their July 31 meeting.

The Cedar Rapids Police Department fired Jones in June for turning off a microphone that should have been recording a traffic stop he conducted on Oct. 30, 2016, then lying about it. His letter of termination details six violations stemming from the traffic stop that led to him receiving letters of reprimand, a 40-hour suspension and eventually being fired.

Jones’s attorney filed an appeal on his behalf on July 2. Jones had announced his intention to file an appeal in an interview with the Gazette the day after he was fired.

During the stop in question, Jones pulled over a young Black mother because her car had no license plates, Ryan J. Foley of the Associated Press reported. The woman also had a suspended license for failure to pay traffic fines.

The termination letter says Jones should have arrested the woman and had her car impounded under CRPD policy, which Jones did not do. Jones let the woman go and called the woman’s father, a tow truck driver and professional acquaintance of Jones, to come pick up the car.

Jones told the AP he thought he had discretion to let the woman go and that this kind of policing would improve relations between white officers and Black residents. The decision saved the woman money in fines and towing fees and prevented her from losing her license for another six months.

The October stop in question occurred two days before Jones shot and paralyzed Jerime Mitchell during a traffic stop on Nov. 1, 2016. Jones’s audio recording was also not working during the November traffic stop, but CRPD has not said why. A grand jury declined to indict Jones for the shooting and an investigation by the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation concluded that Jones had not broken the law when he shot Mitchell.

“Fire Lucas Jones” had been a frequent chant at June protests calling for police reform in Cedar Rapids. “Justice for Danky” signs have also been prominent at the protests.

Chalk messages written on Cedar Rapids City Hall. July 18, 2020. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

The incident with Mitchell was not the first shooting Jones was involved in as a CRPD officer. In October 2015, Jones and another officer shot and killed 21-year-old Jonathan Gossman after a traffic stop. That shooting was deemed justified by Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden.

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