On Wednesday, a Dallas County grand jury indicted the officer who shot an unarmed black man who police mistook for a car burglar last month, marking the third Dallas-area cop to face criminal charges for an on-duty shooting this year.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced that former Mesquite Police Department officer Derick Wiley is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant, which carries a sentence of five years to life in prison. Johnson said Wiley had turned himself in to authorities on Wednesday and posted a $300,000 bond.
“The grand jury got it right,” Johnson told reporters, vowing to take the case to trial and seek maximum punishment for the since-fired officer. “We will be prosecuting this case very vigorously, we are seeking whatever we can get out of this case.”
The Mesquite Police Department initially considered Jones a “burglary suspect” because of a 911 caller who saw him struggling to turn off his own car alarm in a parking lot the night of November 8. In a press conference last month, Lieutenant Brian Parrish blamed Jones for not giving the officer who shot him “ample opportunity to start an investigation.” A statement police issued after the shooting made Jones seem almost superhuman, claiming it took no less than three cops to subdue a 130-pound man with fresh bullet wounds. Police then charged Jones with evading arrest, shackled him to his hospital bed and blocked family from visiting him for six days.
As public attention built around Jones’ shooting, police dropped the evading charge against him the day he was released from the hospital in order to “prioritize” the investigation into the officer who shot him. Last week, as the Dallas County grand jury began hearing evidence in the case, Mesquite Police Chief Charles Cato announced an internal investigation had concluded that Wiley “violated department policy” and fired him.
Attorneys for Jones have been critical of Johnson’s handling of the case and wanted her file an attempted murder charge against Wiley rather than wait for a grand jury indictment. “We gave Lyndo word of the charges and he wasn’t really pleased,” Justin Moore, one of Jones’ attorneys, told the Observer on Wednesday. “He wanted an attempted murder charge considering everything that’s happened.”
Moore said Jones has been taken back to the hospital for blood on the lungs and will likely require additional surgery in the coming days. Medical records show Jones was shot at least twice in the back, Moore told the Observer. Moore also said that doctors recently found a third bullet inside the 31-year-old.
Jones’ is the third police shooting this year captured on body camera in Dallas County that has resulted in criminal charges against a cop (on Wednesday, Johnson said authorities won’t release the footage until after trial). In late June, a grand jury indicted Dallas Police Department officer Christopher Hess on a charge of aggravated assault in the death of Genevive Dawes. Hess and another officer, Jason Kimpel, fired 13 bullets into Dawes’ car, killing the 21-year-old mother (Kimpel hasn’t been charged in the death). Dallas County prosecutors who brought the case to the grand jury said body camera footage from the scene contradicted Hess’ account of the shooting and called the technology “a game changer” for investigating police shootings.
Earlier this year, Dallas County prosecutors took the almost unheard of step of filing a murder charge against Roy Oliver — the Balch Springs police officer who shot and killed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards in April — before a grand jury even indicted him. Court records show Oliver fired his assault rifle into a car full of black teenagers driving away from a high school party, striking Edwards in the head. Prosecutors later charged Oliver with aggravated assault for pulling a gun on someone during a fender bender two weeks before Edwards’ killing — an incident Dallas police initially dismissed. Court records filed last month state Oliver was in a group called “Caucasians in Effect” in middle school and and “posted swastikas in public places and hated anyone who was not caucasian.” His case is set for trial next month.