Police shot an unarmed man because they thought he was burglarizing his own car

Officials have also dropped a charge of evading arrest against Lyndo Jones, but say they may revisit it later.

Mesquite, Texas resident Lyndo Jones is released from the hospital after being shot in the stomach and back by a police officer. (Credit: WFAA, screengrab)
Mesquite, Texas resident Lyndo Jones is released from the hospital after being shot in the stomach and back by a police officer. (Credit: WFAA, screengrab)

Police in Mesquite, Texas have dropped a charge against an unarmed man who was arrested and shot by police after officers believed he was burglarizing his own car.

Lyndo Jones, 31, was sitting inside his truck in a parking lot on the evening of November 8, struggling with a malfunctioning car alarm, when police arrived and instructed him to exit the vehicle. Officials said they were responding to reports of a possible car burglary after someone nearby reported hearing the alarm.

After “ma[king] contact” with Jones, Jones exited his vehicle voluntarily. Officers said a scuffle ensued.

“An altercation, a scuffle began and the individual ended up being shot,” Mesquite Police Department spokesman Lt. Brian Parrish told reporters afterward. Parrish claimed it had taken three officers to “subdue” Jones and that he had allegedly tried to “run.”

“He was actively trying to stand up and get out of the area,” Parrish said, noting that the officers had held Jones down until paramedics arrived. Justifying the actions of the officer who shot Jones — 10-year police veteran Derick Wiley — he added, “The situation was that Mr. Jones didn’t give the officer ample opportunity to start an investigation.”

Police charged him with evading arrest. The charge was later dropped on Tuesday, six days after Jones was shot by police. Parrish told ThinkProgress that the decision to dismiss the charge was made to “hopefully assist in his medical recovery” and that the charge “may be revisited at a later time.”

“It’s not getting pushed aside,” he said. “Right now, it’s more important for [Jones] to heal.”

Jones’ attorneys have disputed the official police account.

“Within 10 seconds of their arrival, he had been shot it the stomach. While on the street suffering from his wound, officers attempted to perform a cavity search and he reacted to that, and he was shot a second time in this back,” Jones’ lawyer, Lee Merritt, told Dallas–Fort Worth ABC affiliate WFAA8. Merritt claimed that police had also conveniently left out the fact that the truck Jones had been sitting in was his own in their initial public reports.

“That was not a mistake. That was an intentional misrepresentation to the public,” he added. “…That truck was his. How can you burglarize your own car?”

According to reports, Jones was treated for his wounds at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas and was handcuffed to the bed. (Baylor health spokespersons told ThinkProgress that there was no one at that facility by that name and declined to comment, although it’s common for hospitals to withhold any information on a patient — including their presence — if the patient requests anonymity.) Jones’ other lawyer, Justin Moore, said he was also forcibly removed by hospital security after arriving and demanding to sit in on an interview police were conducting with Jones, without attorneys present, a violation of his constitutional right to counsel.

Police say they did nothing wrong in speaking to Jones without his lawyers. “He’s a potential complainant in a shooting,” Parrish told ThinkProgress, adding that officers had not spoken to Jones about the charge against him. “There’s no requirement his lawyers be present for that.”

During his hospital stay, Jones was also reportedly barred from seeing his family, as police stated he was a security risk.

“We have a child together, and he hasn’t seen her in a whole week and he loves his daughter,” Tierra Burns, the mother of one of Jones’ children, told WFAA8. “He always loved his daughter. …He didn’t deserve what happened to him at all.”

For his part, despite his anger, Jones believes he’s simply lucky to be alive.

“It’s not right,” he said, speaking with the media on Tuesday night. “That wasn’t right for me to be handcuffed to a bed, then moved from a room, then asked a thousand questions [without] my lawyer. …I don’t why somebody would do that. Why? I didn’t do nothing to you or did anything.”

He added, “I’m feeling thankful. I get to go home and see my kids. I have not seen them for a long period of time. I’m thankful. I’m alive. I’m thankful to everyone who reached out or said kind words — and the nurses in there, the doctors and nurses, they did good.”

Jones said he will not be able to return to work, where he does manual labor, or lift up his children “for a period of time” as a result of his injuries.

The Mesquite Police Department and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office have stated than an investigation into the shooting is ongoing. Investigators plan to interview Wiley, who has been placed on administrative leave.