A 31-year-old man was shot twice by police in Texas after officers thought he was breaking into his own pickup truck because the alarm was going off, his attorneys say.
Lyndo Jones was wounded when he was shot in the back on November 8 in the 1300 block of South Town East Boulevard, the Mesquite Police Department told KTVT-TV.
While police have said the officer thought Jones was a car burglary suspect, his attorneys, Lee Merritt and Justin Moore, said Tuesday that he was shot after accidentally setting of the alarm on his own pickup truck. Jones was not armed, police confirmed Tuesday. Jones was initially charged with a crime for running from police, but that was later dropped and he was released from custody.
“Another unarmed BM (black male) shot by cops, in stable but critical condition,” Merritt said on Twitter.
Merritt said on Facebook that Jones was “shot twice attempting to shut off his car alarm,” and then placed “under arrest with no criminal charges,” chained to his hospital bed and denied family and attorney visits while being “unconstitutionally questioned by department that shot him.”
Officer Derick Wiley shot Jones, police said. Wiley has worked for the Mesquite Police Department for 10 years.
“I’ve not seen any clearer case of constitutional violations,” Merritt said. “Not only do you have the excessive force where the client was shot, unarmed in his own car, accused of being a burglary suspect and the media misled that this man was shot during a burglary, he was then detained in the hospital, his family was denied access to him, they were not given, as he was fighting for his life, any updates on his medical condition. His doctors said they were not allowed to give updates. And now he is being denied counsel and literally hidden. I couldn’t imagine anything be more blatantly violative of the constitution.”
Police said the had consent to speak to Jones and he did not request an attorney. They also said he was spoken to in reference to him being shot, “not any offense” he may or may not have “been responsible for,” Lieutenant Brian Parrish said at a press conference Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jones Was Shot in the Stomach & Then Shot a 2nd Time in the Back When He Responded to ‘Unlawful Sodomy’ by Officers Trying to Search Him, His Attorneys Say
Lyndo Jones, who was unarmed, was sitting in a pickup truck with the security alarm sounding when officers arrived at the scene on November 8 about 9 p.m., the Mesquite Police Department told KTVT-TV. The responding officer, Derick Wiley, believed Jones was a car burglary suspect because of a 911 call, according to police.
“While officers were responding, the caller said the suspect had broken into a pick-up truck and was setting off the vehicle’s alarm,” Mesquite Police said in a statement released the day after the shooting.
Police said the officer “confronted” Jones and “things escalated quickly,” according to the news station. During a “scuffle,” Jones was shot at least once, the news station reports. Other officers responded and police said it took multiple officers to handcuff and then hold the wounded Jones down, until paramedics arrived to examine his injuries. He was then taken to the hospital.
“Regardless of who owns the vehicle, regardless of what the actual situation is, if an officer receives a call that there’s a burglary in progress and find what he deems to be a suspect, it is just simply a prudent matter to take that person into custody and further investigate and find out if the person is up to no good. And if they are to move forward with the investigation,” Lieutenant Brian Parrish said Tuesday, November 14, at a press conference. “The situation was that Mr. Jones didn’t give the officer any ample opportunity to start an investigation.”
“It was night time, the alarm’s going off and we don’t know what he’s there for,” Parrish said.
A statement from Jones’ attorneys presents a differing version of events. Attorney Justin Moore said Jones “was dealing with a minor car issue after accidentally triggering his alarm and being unable to disable the security system” when police arrived. According to Moore, Jones was then “commanded to step out of his vehicle.”
When he exited his vehicle he tried to “explain the issue” and he was then “shot once in the stomach” by the unidentified Mesquite police officer, Moore said.
“Several officers then attacked Mr. Jones and attempted to perform an anal cavity search on the streets. Mr. Jones reacted to the unlawful sodomy and was consequently shot a second time in the back,” according to Moore.
“Mr. Jones was then placed under arrest and transported to Baylor Medical Plaza where he was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. He has remained handcuffed to his bed and denied family visitation although he has yet to be charged with crime,” Moore said.
A photo posted by a local reporter shows Jones in his hospital bed with a wound to his stomach:
Jones was not charged with a crime until Tuesday, Moore said on Facebook.
“This morning, my client, Lyndo Jones wasn’t charged with a crime per the DA’s office and Mesquite PD,” Moore wrote. “Since then, after they denied him his right to effective counsel, they conveniently charged him with ‘evading arrest.’ This gets crazier by the day! And they still won’t tell me where my client is!”
Jones was initially charged with evading arrest or detention, a misdemeanor, and could have faced up to 180 days in jail if convicted, records show. But just hours after announcing the charge, police dropped the charge and he was released from custody.
He had been in the custody of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office without bail. Police said at the press conference that the delay in the charge being filed was because of the transfer of custody. It is not clear why they decided to drop the charge.
2. Police Claimed That Jones Displayed ‘Such Physical Strength’ That He Had to Be Held Down by 3 Officers
While police have released few details about the case, they have claimed that Jones fought off the officers even after he was shot.
“The suspect demonstrated such physical strength; it took all three officers to hold him on the ground until paramedics arrived,” police said in a written statement, according to the Dallas Morning News.
No officers were injured, KDFW-TV reports.
Police also implied that Jones’ strength was amplified for some reason, without providing any evidence.
“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,” Lieutenant Brian Parrish told KTVT-TV the day after the shooting.
“The issue was keeping him from moving around, from either running off or fighting, that’s why the officers were holding him down,” Parrish said at a press conference on November 14.
“I can’t say definitely that he was under the influence of anything,” Parrish said, but added that his opinion that Jones was under the influence of drugs has not changed, despite no test results being available.
3. Jones’ Attorney Says He Was Forcibly Removed From the Hospital & Given a Criminal Trespass Warning for Trying to Provide Him Counsel
Justin Moore, an attorney who is representing Jones, wrote on Facebook that he was removed from the Baylor University Medical Center, when he tried to end an “unconstitutional” interview being conducted by police with Jones. Moore went to the hospital to serve as Jones’ counsel with other members of his office about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, he said. He said they obtained the proper credentials to get access to his room, where Jones has been handcuffed to his bed since the shooting.
“However, upon arrival Mr. Jones was being unlawfully questioned by Mesquite PD detectives who disregarded his constitutional right to have counsel present,” Moore’s office said in a press release. “When attorney Justin Moore attempted to end the interview he was denied access by the Dallas Sheriff and forcibly removed from the hospital with a criminal trespass warning by Baylor PD.”
Moore, a Dallas-based attorney, added in a Facebook post, “Was denied access to visit my client this morning at Baylor hospital. He was shot while being unarmed by Mesquite PD and in the process they tried to sodomize him after he was shot. Now Mesquite PD and the Dallas County Sheriff’s department are violating my clients due process rights by coercing testimony from him and not allowing me to end the interview. In the process, I attempted to end the interview and go speak with my client, and I was subsequently escorted off Baylor’s premises with a criminal trespass warning.”
Attorney Lee Merritt said in a Facebook post and video that Jones is “being hidden” from them.
“He was taken to the hospital in critical condition, he’s been in the ICU and he’s been held for six days,” Merritt said in the video. “His family has been denied access to him. They contacted my office two days after he was shot, when they just learned about him being shot, I contacted Mr. Moore who is a criminal attorney here in Dallas to discover what was the criminal nature of his charges and he discovered that there have been no criminal charges against him. So of course we demanded his immediate release from custody, that the chains be removed and his family be granted access to him.”
Merritt said that Moore went to visit Jones and he was being “unlawfully interrogated” by the Mesquite PD, “under the authority of the Dallas Sheriff’s Department.”
According to Merritt, they have prepared a writ of habeas corpus and went back to see Jones, and “they have moved him out of his bed,” and they are “now trying to figure out” where he was moved to.
“They’re playing hide the citizen,” Merritt said.
Moore said Jones was previously moved to a different room after his family learned that he had been shot and his mother went to look for him at Baylor and found him. Moore said since being removed by police, he has now coordinated with Baylor Hospital so that he can get access to his client, but then discovered he had been moved again.
“We don’t know where he is,” Moore said.
Later Tuesday, the attorneys were given access to Jones and he was released from custody.
4. He Is a Father & Is Originally From Atlanta, Texas
Lyndo Jones is a father who lives in Arlington, Texas, and is originally from Atlanta, Texas, according to his Facebook page, which features several photos of him with his kids.
“It’s not breaking in if it’s his truck,” his sister, Crystal, wrote on Facebook. She added that it appears her brother will be able to recover and come out of the hospital “fine.”
In several of the photos on Jones’ Facebook page, a red pickup truck can be seen. It is not clear if that is the vehicle involved in the Mesquite incident.
Attorney Lee Merritt said that “to this date, the man has not been charged with a crime.” He said they anticipate that police will “backtrack and attempt to make up charges, but we’ve been clear, every law enforcement officer that we’ve spoken with and there justification for questioning him was that he was a witness, not a suspect. So we expect this to be handled the right way. I want the identity of the officer, I want (Jones) to be immediately released from custody.”
Jones underwent surgery and is recovering.
5. It Is Not Clear Whether an Outside Agency Is Investigating the Shooting, Which Was Possibly Captured on Body & Dashboard Cameras
Police sources told WFAA-TV that there have been “questions” about whether the shooting was justified since the incident occurred.
The shooting is being investigated by the Mesquite Police Department’s internal affairs division, not an outside agency, as is often the case in police-involved shootings. Investigators are also looking into the criminal side of the case, along with potential internal policy violations.
The department said in a statement that the shooting was possibly captured on body and dashboard cameras. Footage from those devices is being reviewed by investigators, police told KTVT-TV. They are also searching for surveillance video from the area to assist in the investigation, the department said.
Merritt said that he wants the body camera footage to be released to his office so that they can prepare a civil suit and they want the habeas corpus petition granted. Lt. Brian Parrish said at a press conference that the footage will be released at a later date.
“We don’t have all the facts,” Parrish said. “Again, it was just today that we got a chance to speak to the person that was shot. Now that we have, we have additional information and in fact we’ve got further interviews coming up with the officer involved and of course there are others involved.”
On the body camera video, he said, “I haven’t seen all the footage and I don’t know exactly what’s in all the footage and until I do I’m not going to relay that information. I’m not going to try this case in the public media. I’m just simply not going to do that. Right now there are pieces of this investigation that are still under investigation and when we have all the information that’s when I will be releasing it.”
Officer Derick Wiley, a patrol officer, has been placed on paid administrative leave. Details about Wiley have not been released, including whether he has been involved in shootings in the past or if he has been the target of complaints or been disciplined.