A Cedar Rapids Police officer was fired for turning off the microphone that should have been recording a traffic stop he conducted in October 2016, then lying about it.
The stop in question occurred on Oct. 30, 2016, two days before the officer, Lucas Jones, shot and paralyzed Jerime “Danky” Mitchell during a traffic stop on Nov. 1, 2016. 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. Mitchell and his wife, Bracken, filed a lawsuit in March 2017 against Jones and the City of Cedar Rapids.
Jones’ audio recording was also not working during the November traffic stop, but the Cedar Rapids Police Department (CRPD) has not said why the audio wasn’t working. A police spokesperson told KCRG the city could not comment on whether the audio issue on Nov. 1, 2016, was connected to Jones turning off the device two days earlier.
Jones’ letter of termination, which was dated June 18 and posted in full by Iowa’s News Now, details six violations that led to him receiving letters of reprimand, a 40-hour suspension and eventually being fired on June 18. Jones was on administrative leave since May 4, due to a departmental investigation that began in February.
On Jan. 16, Jones testified under oath that he intentionally turned off his audio recording during a traffic stop on Oct. 30, 2016, “to conceal that he was intentional (sic) violating policy.” Jones also did not arrest the driver from the traffic stop as CRPD required, according to the letter. Both of these violations resulted in letters of reprimand.
Jones received a 40-hour suspension for another statement he made during the Jan. 16 deposition. According to the letter, “Sergeant Jones made statements that he would knowingly violate department policy as he sees fit.”
Three violations led to Jones’s firing.
On April 13, 2017, Jones gave a lieutenant untruthful statements during an interview about the status of his microphone during the October traffic stop. Jones gave additional false statements to a different lieutenant during an interview on Feb. 20 of this year.
“Officer/Sergeant Jones violated the rules, regulations, directives, orders and policies of the Cedar Rapids Police Department during the October 30, 2016, traffic stop, during the April 13, 2017, administrative interview, during the January 16, 2020, deposition, and during the February 20, 2020, administrative interview,” the letter said about the sixth violation.
Jones told the Gazette earlier this month that he believes Chief Wayne Jerman caved to “political pressure” to fire him. Jones said he plans to appeal his termination and hopes to be able to return to law enforcement.
“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.
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.
“This is something that should have happened years ago,” Advocates for Social Justice leader Leslie Neely said on June 19 about Jones’ firing. “… We are also aware that he does plan to appeal his decision, and we’re not gonna let that go through. We’re going to keep protesting. We’re going to keep being out in the streets, so they know that the city of Cedar Rapids does not agree with him being a police officer here or anywhere else.”