“Victims of police brutality and their families should not be treated this way.”
After mistaking him for a burglar and shooting him twice, police charged Lyndo Jones with evading arrest, shackled him to his Dallas hospital bed and blocked family members from visiting him for six days.
At first, Mesquite police erroneously called Jones, 31, a “burglary suspect” because of a 911 caller who’d spotted him in a parking lot on November 8 while he was struggling to turn off the alarm in his truck. Police say officer Derick Wiley arrived around 7 p.m. to investigate the possible burglary and shot Jones in a “confrontation” that ensued. A press release the Mesquite Police Department issued afterward offered no details on the confrontation but seemed to endow Jones with almost superhuman strength — claiming it took three officers to subdue the unarmed, 130-pound man with two fresh gunshot wounds. After police learned the vehicle indeed belonged to Jones, they still called him a suspect and charged him with evading arrest.
Authorities barred Jones’ family from visiting him at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, where doctors treated him this month, because of his misdemeanor charge. At one point, deputies escorted Jones’ attorney, Justin Moore, out of the hospital after he tried to stop Mesquite police investigators from questioning Jones alone. According to Moore, Jones’ family didn’t even get to see him until six days after the shooting, when police dropped the misdemeanor charge against Jones just as he was being discharged from the hospital.
“They shot this guy because of a mistake and then chained him to a hospital bed away from people who care about him, people who are wondering whether he’s going to survive,” Moore told the Observer. “Victims of police brutality and their families should not be treated this way.”
Mesquite police won’t say much about the “confrontation” that led to Jones’ shooting, but in a press conference with reporters last week, Lieutenant Brian Parrish blamed Jones for not giving the officer who shot him “ample opportunity to start an investigation.”
Moore, however, says that in Jones’ version of events, Officer Wiley approached him with his gun drawn, ordered him out of his truck and then fired when he got out of the vehicle. Moore says Jones blacked out from the pain sometime after that and doesn’t even remember the second gunshot, let alone any subsequent struggle with other officers. Moore told the Observer that police were wearing body cameras, and that Jones and his attorneys were scheduled this week to review footage from the shooting, which hasn’t been publicly released. The Observer requested the video under open record laws.
Mesquite police say that two days after the shooting they transferred Jones into the custody of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, which guards the county’s hospitalized inmates. Moore says he was eventually contacted by members of Jones’ family, who claimed they’d been threatened with arrest for trying to visit him in the hospital. Melinda Urbina, a sheriff’s department spokesperson, told the Observer that it’s “protocol” to deny family visits for hospitalized inmates in county custody.
Moore says he visited Jones in the hospital for the first time the night of November 11, three days after the shooting, but couldn’t exactly speak with him because “he was heavily sedated at that time, with tubes going out of his nose.” Moore says he visited Jones again a couple days later, just as doctors were starting to reintroduce solid food, but that he wasn’t yet well enough to discuss the shooting.
Moore says that on a conference call the morning of November 14 with Mesquite police and Dallas County District Attorney’s Office representatives, all parties agreed that investigators wouldn’t question Jones at the hospital without an attorney present. But when he arrived at the hospital a few hours later, Moore says two Mesquite detectives were questioning Jones in his room. Moore says he started shouting when it became clear deputies guarding the room weren’t going to allow him to stop the interview.
“I guess you could say I caused a scene,” Moore told the Observer. “I started yelling, ‘You’re violating his constitutional rights,’ just anything that he (Jones) might be able to hear and encourage him to try and stop that interrogation.” The deputies threatened to arrest him if he returned, he says. Urbina with the sheriff’s department says that deputies escorted Moore outside the hospital “as a result of his behavior.”
Later that day, the Mesquite Police Department changed course and announced it would drop the charge against Jones just in time for his release from the hospital. Sgt. Joseph Thompson told the Observer in a statement this week that the department would now rather “prioritize” the investigation into the officer who shot Jones over the misdemeanor evading arrest charge.
“It is more important to us to investigate and determine whether a more serious crime was committed,” Thompson said in an emailed statement. “If after the investigation is complete and the officer’s actions were found to be justified, then filing the evading charge will be reevaluated at a later time.”
Moore says subpoenas have already gone out for a grand jury investigation into the shooting. A spokesperson for the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said she wouldn’t comment on any pending investigation and wouldn’t answer our questions about the case. If the investigation leads to any charge against the officer, the case would be the third police shooting captured on body camera this year that Dallas County prosecutors shepherded to criminal indictment.