DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It was the retrial for a fired Mesquite Police officer accused of aggravated assault.
Derick Wiley would face his second jury, after a deadlocked decision a year ago forced a mistrial declaration. Wiley was indicted in 2017 for the shooting of Lyndo Jones, a man sitting in his own truck in a vacant parking lot. Wiley’s department issued body camera recorded the moments he hurled profanities at Jones, demanding he get out his truck, and get on the ground.
When Jones tried to wrestle free from Officer Wiley’s grip and run, Wiley pulled his gun and fired.
Along the seats in the courtroom, and benches in the halls, attorneys who’d been observing and monitoring the case started to talk.
The Wiley acquittal was a win for a former police officer charged with aggravated assault, but is the case a study for the Dallas area’s most talked about police-involved murder case in the past year?
“Apparently, he got a fair trial, and I think people will use that to say Amber Guyger can get a fair trial in Dallas County,” attorney Heath Harris said Wednesday.
Harris is a former top prosecutor for the Dallas County District Attorneys Office. He has prosecuted cases against police officers. He now is a criminal defense lawyer.
Harris said the Wiley trial garnered Dallas County Courthouse attention, not just for the indictment against the former Mesquite officer, but as a upfront example of what could happen in the case against former Dallas Police officer Amber Guyger.
“Most thought that officer (Wiley) would’ve been convicted,however, for whatever reason. Now, I think people will use that to say Amber can get a fair trial in Dallas County,” he said.
Guyger’s case revolves around her shooting and killing apartment neighbor Botham Jean.
Jean was in his own apartment. Guyger lived one floor above. She told investigators she mistook Jean’s apartment for hers, believed he was an intruder when she entered the unit, and shot him. Attorney’s for Guyger have filed for a change of venue, claiming the former cop could not get a fair trial in Dallas County.
“Split second decisions. Amber Guyger’s case is not dissimilar in that sense. Was her mistake reasonable under the circumstances?” criminal defense attorney Mike Howard assessed.
Howard said recent indictments against police officers have generated concern, and the Wiley case was likely being observed by those on both sides of a fairness argument- can a jury hold a police officer accountable, and/or exonerate them with an acquittal.
“I think what it does tell us is that it is possible for a defendant officer to get a fair trial. The public perception is not so turned against officers that it’s an automatic guilty,” he said.
Howard also points ouT it was a Dallas County Jury that sent a Balch Springs Police officer to prison, after finding him guilty in the shooting death of Jordan Edwards.