Former Texas cop indicted in shooting of Black man
CLAUDIA LAUER | 12/17/2017, 5:24 a.m.
(AP) – A former police officer in a Dallas suburb has been indicted in the shooting of Lyndo Jones, a Black man who was mistaken for a burglar while trying to unlock his own truck.
Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced that a grand jury on Dec. 6 indicted former Mesquite police officer Derick Wiley, 31, who is also Black, on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant in the Nov. 8 shooting of Jones, who survived.
The charge is a first degree felony that carries a sentence of five to 99 years or life in prison and a possible fine of $10,000, according to the DA’s office.
Johnson said Wiley had turned himself in and been released on $300,000 bond, but said she did not know where he surrendered.
Attorney information for Wiley was not immediately available in court records. Johnson said Wiley does have an attorney but declined to offer her name.
Authorities have said Jones was shot twice after officers responded to a report of someone breaking into a vehicle, setting off its alarm. Officials said the shooting occurred as Jones scuffled with Wiley and other officers, but Mesquite Police Chief Charlie Cato clarified Dec. 7 that Wiley was the only officer on scene when the shots were fired.
Jones was originally charged with evading arrest, but that charge was dropped.
Body camera footage of the incident has not been released, and Johnson declined to describe what it showed because she said she wanted to preserve a possible jury pool.
Attorneys representing Jones in a possible civil case against the police department said he is still recovering.
Attorney Lee Merritt said the attorneys are happy with the grand jury’s decision but criticized Johnson for not charging the former officer before the case was presented to the grand jury, saying the body camera video was enough evidence to have probable cause. He also said the attorneys believe other charges could have been added, but did not elaborate.
“I talked to him about the indictment a bit earlier and he wasn’t too thrilled about it, to be quite honest,” said attorney Justin Moore. “He believes Faith Johnson should have issued an indictment herself and not punted to the grand jury.”
Johnson noted that the grand jury reviewed the case less than a month after the shooting occurred.
“Unfortunately, Lee Merritt didn’t have all the facts. He didn’t have all the information. We did,” Johnson said. “That’s why the citizens of Dallas County can count on us and make sure that we do the right thing, based on the evidence we have ... so based on what we had, we had to proceed the way we did. And even with proceeding the way we did, we did it expeditiously.”
The aggravated assault charge carries a sentence of between five years to life in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Johnson said the office will “seek the maximum” sentence.
Wiley was fired late last month for violating a police department policy, though Cato didn’t specify what policy had been violated. However, he did announce on Dec. 7 that Wiley is in the process of appealing his firing. After being on the force for more than nine years, Wiley was dismissed for three violations of the department’s policies.
Wiley’s indictment is the third indictment of a former police officer in an on duty shooting in Dallas County in the last year. The other two former officers were indicted in fatal shootings.
“I want to thank the Grand Jury for their service and extend my thoughts and prayers to Mr. Jones as he recovers,” Johnson said just after announcing the indictment. “I also want to reassure the citizens of Dallas County that my office is committed to seeking justice. It is my responsibility to get it right, which is why I am always thorough before making any decision regardless of the timeline. I will continue to exercise that judgement on every single case, no matter who you are.”