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No charges against Iowa police officer in shooting of motorist

By Timothy Mclaughlin

(Reuters) - A white Iowa police officer who shot and paralyzed a black motorist during a traffic stop last month will not be charged, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden said a grand jury would not indict Cedar Rapids Police Officer Lucas Jones for shooting Jerime Mitchell on Nov. 1.

"They (the grand jury) advised it was their decision to return a no bill, indicating that no criminal charges should be brought against officer Lucas Jones," Vander Sanden told a news conference on Tuesday. "The grand jury's decision not to file charges against Officer Lucas Jones ends the criminal inquiry into this matter."

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Mitchell's attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mitchell was shot early on the morning of Nov. 1 after being pulled over because lights meant to illuminate his license plate were not working.

Jones detected the odor of marijuana coming from Mitchell's truck when he approached the vehicle, Vander Sanden said.

Mitchell was asked to step out of his truck and did, but when Jones attempted to handcuff him a scuffle ensued, Vander Sanden said.

Jones released a canine unit using a button on his utility belt, but Mitchell was able to get back into his vehicle.

Jones became caught between the truck's open door and the truck itself and "feared his life was in jeopardy," once Mitchell began to accelerate, Vander Sanden said.

"He (Jones) then grabbed his service weapon with the right hand and fired three shots at Mitchell's head with the intent to kill."

One of the three shots hit Mitchell in the neck, paralyzing him instantly, Vander Sanden said. Mitchell is currently at a hospital outside of Iowa, according to Vander Sanden.

Officers who searched Mitchell's car after the shooting found over a pound of marijuana, roughly $1,500 in cash and a set of scales, Vander Sanden said, as well as text messages suggesting Mitchell was in the process of delivering marijuana when he was stopped.

Mitchell's blood tested positive for THC, the psychoactive agent in marijuana, Vander Sanden said.

Jones was placed on paid administrative leave following the shooting. The incident will need to undergo an internal review before he can rejoin the police force, according to Cedar Rapids Police Department spokesman Greg Buelow.

A squad car video would be released "in the near future" after Mitchell's family had time to view the video and ask officials questions, Vander Sanden said.

(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Leslie Adler)

 
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