DALLAS - A fired Mesquite police officer who shot an unarmed man in 2017 told the jury that he feared for his life on Thursday during his retrial.
Former Mesquite Police Officer Derick Wiley shot Lyndo Jones during a 2017 confrontation in a parking lot where the officer was investigating suspicious activity.
Jones survived and has already testified as a state witness.
The state rested its case and the defense began calling witnesses Thursday. This is the second trial for Derick Wiley. His first trial last year ended with a hung jury.
In tears, Wiley told the jury his backup had not arrived. He felt he was alone with Jones.
Wiley demonstrated for the jury the struggle with Jones, how Jones got away and why he felt he had to shoot.
“I thought I was going to die out there,” Wiley said.
The encounter happened in 2017 when Wiley responded to a report of suspicious activity in a parking lot. Earlier in the day on Thursday, jurors watched body camera footage along with surveillance video of the scuffle and shooting.
During Wiley's testimony on Thursday, he described approaching the vehicle where Jones was sitting behind the wheel.
“At night time when I'm approaching something that I don’t know what I’m approaching, I’m gonna have my hand rested on my weapon or on top of my holster,” Wiley said.
Wiley continued saying Jones was not complying to his commands, and he feared for his own safety. He said Jones refused some commands or was slow to respond.
Using an attorney as an actor, Wiley demonstrated the struggle and Jones' escape. He said Jones reached for his gun and fought with him as he tried to detain him to search him for weapons. With the jurors feet away, he broke down explaining his state of mind.
“I thought I was out there by myself. I can’t get on the radio. 454 hadn’t showed up, and I thought I was by myself,” Wiley said. “At that moment, I told myself either I’m going to shoot him or he’s going to shoot me.”
But when prosecutors got their chance at Wiley, they grilled him over his police work that evening.
“Would you agree with me that your instructions for him to get on the ground were vague at best?” a prosecutor asked.
“I don’t know,” Wiley said. “Maybe.”
Wiley shot Jones twice in the back during the encounter. Body camera footage shows Jones stepping back at the time of the shooting.
Prosecutors asked why Wiley didn’t just chase him. But Wiley says Jones wasn't running away but instead said he was shuffling back. He said Jones had a hand pointing toward him, and he feared Jones might have been armed.
“I saw a man with his hand extended toward me. Looking at me. That’s what I saw,” Wiley said.
The Dallas County jury has already heard from two witnesses who also testified in the first trial: a witness to the shooting and a police sergeant who supervised the case.
Sgt. Michael Parker was the first witness to take the stand for the defense. He explained why he decided to arrest Jones after the shooting and not Wiley.
The detective said reviewing the video led him to believe there was enough evidence to show Jones was resisting arrest. He didn’t believe there was probable cause to arrest Wiley for aggravated assault by a public servant.
“He indicated that he was in fear for his life at the moment he fired his weapon,” Parker said. “And in that case, in my opinion as an investigator, that makes that action justifiable.”
Jurors then heard from business owner Henry Leaverton whose parking lot Jones was in the night he was shot. He says police were called after Jones wouldn’t leave the property, and he watched as Wiley responded and ordered Jones out of the truck to detain him.
Surveillance cameras outside the business captured the encounter.
“Just a sudden explosion of struggle, and Officer Wiley was fighting Mr. Jones’ hands off him at the same time trying to get control of him,” Leaverton said. “It looked like to me he was fighting him off of him.”
Leaverton described what he saw in the video, which shows the brief struggle between Wiley and Jones before Wiley fired his gun.
“I saw Mr. Jones struggling to gain control of Officer Wiley’s weapon,” the business owner recalled.
The defense showed body camera video of the shooting again and asked Parker if it was clear that Jones did not have a gun. He answered no.
The trial resumes on Friday at 9 a.m.