A Cedar Rapids, Iowa, police officer will not be charged in a shooting that left an unarmed black motorist paralyzed because a grand jury has declined to return an indictment.
The grand jury decision not to indict Officer Lucas Jones has infuriated supporters of Jerime Mitchell, 37, who was shot in the neck during a traffic stop. Mitchell remains hospitalized since the shooting and is paralyzed, the Associated Press reports.
Many urged for the appointment of a special prosecutor after learning that Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden never interviewed Mitchell, although his lawyer, Paula Roby, had arranged for her client to give a statement once he regained his ability to talk.
Vander Sanden confirmed to AP that investigators never spoke with Mitchell, but says that they tried to do so. Vander Sanden said that the grand jury decision was fair and urged the public to accept the outcome.
The prosecutor says that Jones was defending himself against Mitchell during a traffic stop that he says became confrontational. According to court records viewed by AP, Jones pulled Mitchell over for burned-out lightbulbs on his license plate. The officer said that he smelled marijuana as he approached Mitchell's truck.
Mitchell was annoyed at being stopped and didn't comply with orders to get out of the truck, authorities say. Mitchell got out of his truck, and Jones says he told him he was going to detain him and grabbed his handcuffs. The two men began to scuffle as Mitchell allegedly attempted to get back into his truck. Jones grabbed his gun and fired three times, hitting Mitchell in the neck with the first shot.
Police said that they found a backpack inside Mitchell's truck containing a pound of marijuana, but the prosecutor says that Mitchell will not face charges "in the interest of justice," despite having had marijuana in his system, AP reports.
Mitchell's family called the grand jury's announcement "ridiculous." Dashcam footage of the incident is expected to be released to Mitchell's family now that the investigation has been concluded.
Read more at the Associated Press.