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Exclusive: Mesquite, Texas, Police Officer to Face Grand Jury in Lyndo Jones Shooting

Editor’s Note: At approximately 4:21 a.m. ET Saturday morning, Lyndo Jones was readmitted to the hospital due to serious complications stemming from the shooting. The Root will update you on his condition as details become available.

Derick Wiley, 35, a ten-year veteran with the Mesquite Police Department in Dallas County, Texas, will face a grand jury on Nov. 28 to determine if he will face criminal charges for the Nov. 8 shooting of Lyndo Jones, 31, Jones’ attorney S. Lee Merritt exclusively shared with The Root.

Wiley is currently on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of two separate investigations into the shooting, one by the Mesquite Police Department and the other by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.

On the night of Nov. 8, Jones was sitting inside of his vehicle when the car alarm malfunctioned and began blaring. As he struggled to turn it off, someone approached him and asked if he needed assistance.

Jones said that he did not, but that didn’t stop the unidentified person from calling 911 and claiming that Jones was attempting to steal his own vehicle. The 911 call triggered a series of events that ended with Wiley shooting Jones twice in the back even though he was unarmed with his hands raised.

Jones was violently searched before being taken into custody and handcuffed to a bed while in critical condition at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas. He was also denied his right to family visitation, according to his legal counsel, criminal defense attorney Justin Moore, who stepped in to represent Jones on behest of civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt.

Merritt is representing Jones in his civil case against Dallas County and the Mesquite Police Department.

When Jones was first taken into custody and hospitalized there were no criminal charges filed against him, which led Moore to investigate why Jones was still technically being held by the Mesquite Police Department.

Days later, after Moore was forcibly removed from the hospital for insisting that the Mesquite Police Department immediately halt an illegal interrogation of his client, Jones was charged with evading arrest.

According to Jones, he requested that his attorney be present for the questioning, but was told by MPD investigators that he didn’t need an attorney because they weren’t there to interrogate him.

Lt. Brian Parrish, a spokesperson for the Mesquite Police Department, insisted during a press conference that questioning Jones without legal counsel present was not in violation of his constitutional rights because he was not being questioned as a suspect but as a “possible complainant.”

“When my investigators spoke to this individual in the hospital . . . it was consensual and it was in reference to him being shot. It was not in reference to any offense he may or may not have committed,” Parrish said.

Parrish’s claim runs to counter to that of Jones’ attorneys, who were told by guards that Jones would absolutely not be questioned without his lawyers present.

The Dallas County DA’s Office reviewed Wiley’s body cam footage of the shooting, leading District Attorney Faith Johnson to dismiss the misdemeanor charge against Jones—on the same day that the Mesquite Police Department filed it—and to open a criminal investigation against Wiley.

Jones was finally released on Nov. 15, but, according to Parrish, the charge may be revisited.

The Mesquite Police Department claims that Jones “demonstrated such physical strength that it took three officers just to hold him down until paramedics could arrive at the scene to assess his injuries.”

“I think that, I’m not an expert on human strength, but I think if someone has been shot and handcuffed and on the ground, and it still takes four large men to hold him down, that might indicate there are other factors in place,” Parrish told local station CBS-DFW.

Not content to play games with the Mesquite Police Department, Merritt, who is representing Jones in his civil case against the MPD, unapologetically admits that his client was high on marijuana and cocaine while sitting in his parked vehicle. Still, he makes it clear that being high should not give police officers license to shoot unarmed people minding their own business.

“The romanticized search for the perfect victim is futile and dangerous,” Merritt told The Root. “My client was doing absolutely nothing that warranted this police officer opening fire.”

“We’ve seen this preemptive, transparent vilification of innocent people play out time and time again,” Merritt continued. “Lyndo Jones is a hard-working father of two young daughters who was profiled by a stranger and shot by Officer Wiley for no reason at all. Wiley is the violent perpetrator here, not my client.”

According to Merritt, the Nov. 28 grand jury hearing means nothing in and of itself. What matters, he says, is that Wiley will be charged and convicted of a crime that was not only a willful abuse of his state-sanctioned power, but also emblematic of the violence that infests police departments across the United States.

“The district attorney [Faith Johnson] has not issued criminal charges against the officer who shot Lyndo Jones twice in the back with his hands up despite abundant probable cause,” Merritt told The Root. “Only 1 percent of law-enforcement misconduct is prosecuted in the state of Texas. That is by design.”

Merritt, who also represents the family of Jordan Edwards, the 15-year-old boy fatally shot by Balch Springs, Texas, police officer Roy Oliver, says that the grand jury process is tainted and shrouded in secrecy, and only through exposing that truth is reform possible.

Oliver was fired from his job and charged with one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault by a public servant—one charge for each of the young boys in the car with Jordan, including two of his brothers.

The charges alone against a police officer in Texas are extremely rare, but that is no cause for celebration. There has been no trial, yet; subsequently, there has been no conviction—even though Oliver executed a child.

“Prosecutors make unique exceptions when dealing with police involved malfeasance,” Merritt said.

In Jones’ case, Wiley’s body cam allegedly captured the entire incident and his attorneys are openly encouraging the MPD to release the footage.

“We believe that the video is highly incriminating against the police officer and my client and I urge the Mesquite Police Department to be transparent and release it immediately,” Merritt told The Root.

Various organizations have formed the Coalition for Justice for Lyndo Jones, including Mothers Against Police Brutality; the American Black Cross; the Texas Organizing Project; Friendship-West Baptist Church; the Arlington Chapter of the NAACP; the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP; Faith-Forward Dallas and Joy Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church.

source: the root

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