Answers sought for man who died days after arrest
Editor’s note: This article has been changed to reflect a clarification from Police Chief Rory Collins about the involvement of EMS with Claymore Jones Jr. on the night of his arrest.
By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY — Relatives of a Salisbury man said Tuesday they want answers after his death just days after he was chased and arrested by police officers.
But Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins said his officers acted appropriately in their Dec. 30 arrest of 22-year-old Claymore Jones.
Jones died at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. He had been on life support for several days, family members said.
Jones would have turned 23 this Saturday.
On Dec. 30, officers attempted to stop Jones, who had a long criminal history, and chased the father of eight to his grandmother’s house on West Bank Street.
Collins said his officers used “minimal force” in arresting Jones after he got out of his car and ran into nearby woods.
A relative and a girlfriend who arrived after Jones’ arrest said they saw him lying on the ground with injuries on his face.
He was then taken in a police car to Rowan Regional Medical Center after detectives on the scene said the situation was not a medical emergency.
Jones developed a large blood clot on his brain stem while at the hospital and was airlifted on Dec. 31 to Presbyterian Hospital.
Jones had a medical condition that caused his body to form blood clots that could endanger his life and was on medication for it, family members said. He’d had the condition since being shot in the arm and leg several months ago.
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Phyllis Worth, Jones’ aunt, said she was one of the first relatives on the scene after the arrest Dec. 30.
Worth said Jones was facedown and handcuffed in the front yard at his grandmother’s 628 W. Bank St. home when she arrived about 10:20 p.m. He had been living at the residence before his arrest.
Jones’ face was bloody, Worth said, and he looked like he had been in a fight.
“Those officers beat him,” Worth said. “They were just out of control. They’re taking justice out of the system.”
Charlotte Fair, who had a three-year-old boy with Jones, said she also came to the house that night after officers called and told her to come and pick up her son.
“They told me to get my son, Kingston. He was crying,” Fair said.
Fair said her son was in the backseat of the car during the pursuit.
“They said they had pulled Claymore over for a DUI,” Fair said.
She said she didn’t get a chance to speak to Jones before he was taken away by officers.
Fair said she waited at the Magistrate’s Office for 30 to 45 minutes before family members told her Jones had been taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center.
Worth said she pleaded with officers at the scene to take her nephew to the hospital immediately.
“I asked the police to call an ambulance,” Worth said. “I said, ‘He’s sick. Please help him.’”
Chief Collins said Jones also told officers that he was sick.
“As he was being handcuffed, during the arrest process, he told them he thought he was going to have a seizure,” Collins said.
Officers called for EMS, Collins said. Medical responders examined Jones for a few minutes and determined he did not need to be taken to the emergency room and left him with detectives. However, given what Jones had told them and what relatives said about his condition, officers took Jones in a patrol car to Rowan Regional Medical Center.
Collins said, based on their knowledge at the time, that he supported the officers’ decision.
“Because of his complaints and because of what (Jones’) grandmother had indicated, detectives made the decision to take him to the hospital themselves,” Collins said.
“I think it was a perfect decision and one that I’m proud that they did.”
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Tashia Miller, another of Jones’ aunts, said Jones had been taking Coumadin, a prescription medication used to treat blood clots.
Miller said Jones had been to Rowan Regional Medical Center and other hospitals in the area for blood clot treatments after he was shot twice in the leg and once in the arm last April.
After being transferred by helicopter to Presbyterian Hospital, Miller said, doctors took Jones into surgery to operate on the blood clot, but could not save his life.
Doctors told relatives that the lack of oxygen to Jones’ brain had left him severely brain damaged.
Jones remained on life support for several days before it was removed Tuesday morning.
Friends and family members filled the hospital room to say their goodbyes in Jones’ final moments.
Miller said taking Jones off of life support brought back painful memories of last February when she had to take Jones’ mother, Janet, off a ventilator. Janet died of ovarian cancer.
“I’m really sad and I’m hurt, but I’m going to do what I need to do to give him his peace and resting,” Miller said.
The 44-year-old said Jones criminal record did not reflect the person he was.
“He had a lot of people that loved him,” she said. “He wasn’t a bad kid, except trying to make it in life.”
She also said officers failed to recognize the situation when there was time to save him.
“They should have initially seen it as an emergency, Miller said, “and not as a drug bust.”
Miller said her nephew was one class short of getting his GED certification from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and was planning his future.
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Collins said Tuesday night that his department is conducting a routine internal review.
“We do a review of every incident like this, and this one is certainly under review,” Collins said.
All officers involved in the incident remain on full, active duty, Collins said.
“I’m just as sorry as I can be that this happened, but it in no way violated any policies rules or laws,” he said.
No outside agencies have been asked to look into the Dec. 30 incident, Collins said. But he plans to continue reviewing the report and expects to make a decision on the investigation as early as today.
Collins said he spoke to Sgt. Rodney Mahaley after the arrest. Mahaley was present at the scene on West Bank Street.
“None of what is being alleged, as far as excessive force, has occurred at all,” Collins said.
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Arlet Borja, the mother of two of Jones’ children including newborn Kaylee, sobbed Tuesday evening with relatives at the West Fisher Street home where Jones was last seen.
As she cried, Borja held Kaylee, who was born just eight days before Jones’ arrest.
“I still feel him here,” Borja said. “She was born early just for him.”
Jones is survived by eight children, relatives said, and was a good father who often spent time with them.
Family members said Jones’ father, Claymore Jones, Sr., was not able to come to the hospital this week to see his son.
The elder Jones remains incarcerated at Albemarle Correctional Institution and is not expected to be released until 2022, according to the N.C. Department of Corrections.
Borja said her children will miss their father, but she’s trying to keep a positive outlook.
“It’s not a good-bye,” Borja said. “It’s a ‘See you later.’ ”