The video of Cassandra Jones’ murder was one of the most harrowing clips uploaded on social media in 2022. The video, presumably recorded on a cell phone, shows Jones writhing on the ground in the parking lot of an apartment complex. A man with a rifle appears and shoots Jones twice from point-blank range.
Emergency Medical Services responded swiftly to the shooting, but they couldn’t save Jones’ life – she died hours later at the University Medical center. The assailant, BJ Brown, fled New Orleans and was arrested in Tennessee after shooting a police officer.
Jones had filed a restraining order against Brown but hadn’t followed up on it
Multiple allegations of abuse marred Jones and Brown’s years-long relationship. In May 2022, Jones had enough of Brown’s abuse and filed a restraining order in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
In the 25-page document, Jones detailed several instances of, among others, financial intimidation, kicking, sexual abuse, choking, and punching.
Jones detailed a late April 2022 incident in which Brown appeared at Jones’ apartment in the early morning hours. “I then told Mr. Brown he got to get out my house and go disrespect the next female,” Jones wrote. “Mr. Brown then took off his belt and began swinging it at me.” Jones sustained bruises from the attack.
She stated that Brown had repeatedly hurt her, including knocking out her teeth when she confronted him about another woman. Jones wrote that Brown fled after she called the police in late April but returned after authorities left. She alleged that Brown tried to smother her with a pillow.
For an unknown reason, Jones didn’t follow up on the temporary restraining order, so the court never issued it. Austin Badon, Jones’ employer, told FOX8: “We spoke about it [the restraining order] and I told her she had my full support and I encouraged her to go through with it but I believe she decided not to.”
Jones’ family members told 4WWL they didn’t believe Brown, despite his abusive ways, could kill Jones: “We couldn’t believe of all the things that could possibly happen, even knowing the type of person he was, that he would go this far, to do something so brutal and so cruel to a human who once maybe loved him.”
Brown was a career criminal facing multiple drug-related charges
Brown had an extensive criminal record that stretched back to 2010. Authorities had arrested him on charges of battery and assault, resisting a police officer, injuring a police dog, and multiple drug-related charges. In 2020, Brown and Jones were arrested carrying 600 doses of MDMA.
Jones and Glenisha Dixon, Brown’s alleged mistress, had accused him of domestic abuse battery before dropping the complaints. Like Jones, Glenisha filed for a protective order against Brown.
It’s unclear why Jones failed to follow up on her restraining order filing. “It’s the most common type of case in criminal court,” Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue, a legal analyst, told WDSU. “Where a victim will recant. Will want to have the system involved, then take it back.”
Rodrigue speculated that given Brown’s criminal history and past behavior, it’s unlikely that a restraining order would have protected Jones. She said:
“We certainly do not expect a protective order to protect her from a person like this. He had been arrested at least 25 times. On probation at the time he executed her. There were multiple opportunities for him to be incarcerated or receive help. Or serve significant time to stay out of her life.”
Speaking to FOX8, actor Ameer Baraka described Jones’ murder as barbaric. “This generation has no fear,” said Baraka, “they have no fear. Animals don’t do this. This is barbaric. This is inhuman behavior. It is pure evil to do something like that.”
Badon, Jones’ employer, was unhappy that her execution appeared on social media: “What did we come to as a society when we put that stuff out there on social media? It’s just heartbreaking that instead of rendering aid and help, people decided to pull out their phones and put that stuff out there.”
After fleeing the shooting scene, Brown shot a police officer during a traffic stop in Erin, Tennessee. The officer, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries, shot back at Brown as he escaped. Following an extensive multi-agency search, Brown was apprehended.
“Words cannot express the gratitude we feel this morning for all of the support from surrounding agencies, our community and especially our own City of Erin Department!” the City of Erin wrote on social media.
Brown was arraigned at the Houston County Courthouse on charges of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer. The court set his bail at $5 million.
Jones left behind three daughters and a grandson
Jones ran track at Vicksburg High School in her native Mississippi. After graduating from Hinds Community College, she moved to New Orleans for employment.
“She was outgoing, always eager to make her own living, independent,” family friend Richard Coney told Nola.com. “She didn’t depend on anyone to do anything for her. She always tried to get up and go get it for herself.”
Jones served as a deputy clerk in Orleans Parish. “She was a valued member of my team,” Badon, the First City County Clerk. “She was part of the fabric of New Orleans.”
Jones left behind three daughters and a grandson she adored. “I’m devastated,” one of her daughters told WDSU. “I’m heartbroken. I’m angry. I don’t know what to do or how to feel.”
A relative speaking to 4WWL lamented that Jones’ grandson would grow up without knowing her: “Sadly, her grandson may not remember her after this tragedy so I hope that if one day he might see these things when he grows up. I would like for him to know that, when she left this earth, he was the apple of her eye.”