Jerime “Danky” Mitchell was shot during a traffic stop on November 1 and he is now paralyzed. Some of Mitchell’s advocates spoke at the Cedar Rapids City Council meeting Tuesday. Bernard Clayton of Cedar Rapids said it’s time for city leaders to not just listen, but “hear” from the African American community in Cedar Rapids.
“Now we can fire the police chief. We can send Officer Jones to prison. We can even fire the city manager, but that would not solve the system,” Clayton said. “…There is a problem within policing that has to be corrected. It has to be dealt with.”
Cedar Rapids police have not disclosed why Mitchell was pulled over sometime after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, November 1. Authorities say Mitchell was shot during some sort of altercation with Officer Lucas Jones. City officials say the video cannot be released to the public because it could jeopardize the integrity of the investigation. Avery Castle told the Cedar Rapids City Council he’s frustrated, too.
“I just had to get this off my chest because I feel, nowadays, nothing is being done,” Castle said.
Many of the paralyzed man’s relatives were in the audience, but none spoke during the council meeting. Catherine Coulter, a teacher in Cedar Rapids, asked the council to increase the budget for police training.
“It’s time to teach our officers how to de-escalate situations,” Coulter said. “…Maybe we need some alternatives, tazers. I’m not an expert in this, but I think this is a turning point for us and we need to think carefully about the future of our police force and the protection of both the officers and the people that they police.”
Mitchell’s niece, Shalyse Johnson, spoke with Iowa Public Radio last night. She said the video will reveal how and why Officer Jones fired his gun at her uncle.
“It really hurts to have your family go through this and have no answers,” Johnson said, “so hopefully it will come out soon.”
The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation is handling the investigation of the shooting. Last year, Officer Jones was one of two officers involved in a fatal shooting. Two speakers at last night’s city council meeting called for an independent federal investigation of the November 1 incident.
(Additional reporting by Iowa Public Radio’s Sarah Boden)