CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) — A police shooting that left an unarmed black man paralyzed and sparked protests in Iowa's second largest city also endangered the deputy police chief when the injured man's speeding truck smashed into his patrol SUV, records show.
Cedar Rapids this week released police reports related to the shooting of Jerime Mitchell by Officer Lucas Jones during a Nov. 1, 2016, traffic stop. The shooting was captured on dash camera video.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled in April that reports generated within 96 hours of the shooting are public records. The Associated Press used the open records law to obtain 157 pages that reveal new details about the shooting and aftermath.
Jones pulled over Mitchell because his license plate bulbs were burnt out. Police have said Jones asked Mitchell to get out of the vehicle after smelling marijuana. Mitchell resisted being handcuffed, so Jones pushed him against the truck and took him to the ground. Mitchell got up with the officer on his back, got in his truck and began to drive away.
As he clung to the moving truck, Jones shot Mitchell in the neck. Authorities have said Mitchell, then 37, was immediately paralyzed and unable to control the vehicle as it accelerated and struck an oncoming police SUV.
The records reveal Deputy Cedar Rapids Police Chief Thomas Jonker was driving that SUV. He was driving the wrong way down the one-way street where the traffic stop occurred, in response to Jones' call for backup.
Jonker wrote in a report that he believed the truck was trying to get out of his way then he saw it was "traveling at a very high rate of speed." Mitchell's truck was traveling 60 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) when it struck Jonker's vehicle, the police records show.
Jonker said he tried to avoid the truck, but that it smashed into the driver's side of his vehicle, causing it to spin. Jonker was trapped inside because his door was sealed shut from the impact. Jonker's car radio and body microphone were damaged, but he was able to call for an ambulance. Jonker, who broke his neck in a 2000 crash, held still while waiting for emergency responders and reported a burning sensation in his neck, soreness in his jaw and pain from his knee. He was taken to a hospital, where testing revealed no obvious injuries.
A dentist treated Jonker for four chipped teeth, and the deputy chief returned to work two days later.
Mitchell's supporters have long maintained that the shooting was unnecessary. His brother, Rosevelt Milam, said Friday that he was stunned to learn Jonker was also endangered.
"Jones turned my brother into a speeding bullet," Milam said. "He put the community in more danger than anything."
A grand jury declined to indict Jones, who returned to work. Protesters blasted the county prosecutor's handling of the case, noting that the panel did not hear testimony from Mitchell.
Mitchell and his wife sued, contending the officer pulled him over without cause and escalated the situation unnecessarily. The lawsuit contends the city was negligent in employing Jones, who fatally shot a 21-year-old man in 2015.
A resolution of the lawsuit had been delayed as the city refused to turn over police reports without an order preventing their public disclosure. The Supreme Court, noting public interest in the case, upheld a judge's ruling directing the city to release some records.