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Police video shows Kenneth Jones reaching near where officers found gun

Posted at 2:04 PM, Apr 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-22 19:33:42-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Thursday, the Douglas County District Court Clerk's Office let reporters and the public view video, exhibits and transcripts from the grand jury investigation of the Nov. 19 officer-involved shooting death of Omaha's Kenneth Jones.

The videos shown to 3 News Now and others, including Omaha Police officers' body-worn cameras and cruiser-mounted cameras, were not immediately released for rebroadcast or social media sharing.

3 News Now and the Omaha World-Herald filed public records requests this week for copies of the video. Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert and Police Chief Todd Schmaderer announced shortly after 6 p.m. that they would release the video Friday.

Their joint statement said the mayor, the chief and the City Attorney's Office had "worked diligently to facilitate the release of the body-worn camera video in the Kenneth Jones case. It has always been our desire to release it."

They also said they would explain on Friday why they hadn't released the video sooner.

The county's grand jury, which convened in late March, returned no indictment in Jones’ death. Below is the information gathered by 3 News Now after reviewing the video and materials:

Jones was shot by an Omaha police officer following a November traffic stop. He kept reaching for something more than a minute after officers first ordered him to raise his hands.

Body camera footage from Officer Daniel Faulkner, who fired four shots, shows Kenneth Jones, 35, ignoring repeated orders to raise his hands and, later, exit the car. This echoes the description offered by Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer after the shooting.

Three other people in the stopped car complied. But Jones, in the back seat, looked around and fumbled for something out of view of the officer's camera from outside the car.

He kept reaching even as officers removed him from the stopped silver 2019 Dodge Charger. The stop became a shooting about a minute after the officers gets out of the car.

Footage from both officers' body cameras confirm that they noticed Jones reaching in the back seat before they approached the car and ordered people's hands up immediately.

Officers focused on Jones and not the three others in the car. Jones kept his door locked and hands down after a pair of hard knocks on the car door window with a police flashlight.

Police later interviewed witnesses from the car who said that Jones and they were scared. At least one woman in the car told Jones during the stop to unlock the door, the video shows.

Officer Richard Martier chided Jones for "not listening to my lawful order." Martier broke the window with his light, unlocked the door and pulled Jones from the car.

During the exchange, Jones can be heard saying, "What are you doing? I ain't got no gun."

Faulkner, who sprinted over to help with Jones, told the grand jury that he soon felt a gun in Jones' pants and felt Jones' hand on it. He said he felt the metal, the plastic grip.

"My finger is actually also on his trigger finger," Faulkner said of Jones. "And that's when I started saying, 'He's got a gun. He's got a gun.' And I recoiled and pushed him off me to create distance."

Faulkner fired four shots and kept asking Jones to show his hands after the shooting. Martier approaches Jones when he doesn't respond and said they needed to render aid.

Beneath Jones as they turn him over, the video shows a handgun. You can hear people in the car screaming after the shooting, as well as shouts from concerned neighbors.

Witness accounts varied, based on police reports provided by the Douglas County District Court Clerk. Some told police they saw Jones raise his hands. The video did not show that.

Vera Long, identified as the driver of the stopped car, told police she had picked Jones up at his apartment out west and driven him to his mother's home near 27th and Harrison Street.

That's where the stop occurred after both officers say they saw the vehicle slow and stop in the middle of the road. They said they thought the car might be failing.

Long told police Jones was friends with her and her daughter. She said she did not think Jones had a gun.

"I don't think so," police quoted her saying. "I don't know. I don't know."

The officer who shot Jones, Faulkner, tried administering CPR to him, including chest compressions.

"Keep breathing," Faulkner said on the video. "Sir, wake up, sir."

The body camera showed that Faulkner gave his version of what happened to his sergeant shortly after the supervisor and paramedics arrived.

"Traffic stop," he said. "He was digging. Wouldn't stop digging. Jumped out. We tried to pull him out. He was reaching into his waistband. Had his hand on a gun. Pulled the gun out as we were running over here. So I shot him."

Martier testified that he was 99% sure Jones had a gun because he trusted his partner.

"He still had his hand in his waistband as he's going away from us," Martier said of Jones. "His elbow kind of comes up, and he starts to turn back towards where we are. And at that point when his shoulder started to rotate back towards us, that's when Officer Faulkner fired the shots."

Reports made available to the grand jury as they evaluated the shooting show that investigators spent at least some time trying to figure out why Jones was carrying.

Jones, because he had been convicted previously of a felony, could've faced a lengthy prison sentence for being in possession of a firearm, Schmaderer said after the shooting.

Police allege in supplemental reports that Jones was a member of the Hilltop Crips. They said his mom lived in a territory where a rival gang operated, the South Family Bloods.

Deangela Neelon, another witness from the stopped Dodge, told police she didn't know whether Jones had any issues with people in that part of South Omaha.

RELATED: Stothert says grand jury will review officer-involved shooting