Mayor Megan Barry’s full remarks on Jocques Clemmons case

Megan Barry (Photo: WKRN)

Remarks as Prepared by Mayor Megan Barry
Announcement by District Attorney General Glenn Funk
May 11, 2017

“To all of the many men and women who have diligently investigated the shooting on February 10th that claimed the life of Jocques Clemmons, I want to thank you for your hard work and your resolve to seek the truth about what happened on that fateful day.

And as Mayor, I know that decisions about justice must be made impartially and based on the facts and on the laws.

I know General Funk has thoroughly reviewed this case through a lens to ensure that if any criminal wrong-doing took place, it would be appropriately punished. General Funk has gone further than any prosecutor before him in ensuring that a shooting death caused by an officer be independently investigated as a way to promote the trust and confidence of the entire community.

Throughout this process, myself, Chief Anderson, and General Funk have been very intentional in not drawing conclusions until the case could be thoroughly investigated and the facts established.

Now that the District Attorney has closed the criminal case, there will be an administrative review of Officer Lippert’s actions to determine if the situation was handled appropriately and whether any disciplinary action is warranted, or if there needs to be any changes to policies, training, or procedure as a result of this incident.

This has been a challenging time for our city.

Over the last few weeks and months following the shooting, I’ve met with members of the community – from the family of Jocques Clemmons, to the NAACP, to clergy, to business people and African-American youth. One message has been consistent – a desire for positive actions – not just in the area of policing – but in equity and inclusion, opportunity and empowerment, in knowing that leaders in our government care – and want to do the right thing.

There are some in our community who are fearful or distrustful of the police, and we still have work to do as a government to promote greater support and trust and transparency – which we are seeking to address through accountability initiatives such as body-worn cameras and through community policing initiatives such as foot patrols to promote more familiarity between police officers and citizens.

General Funk has also outlined some suggested initiatives that may or may not be directly related to this case but he feels should be further reviewed going forward – Some of which we have already begun addressing.

We’ve established an MOU with the TBI, MNDP, and DA so that in the future, police shootings that result in a death will be investigated solely by the TBI.

We have taken action to promote more diversity and inclusive hiring practices within the MNPD so we have a force that better reflects the composition of our city.

The mayor’s office, along with the Police Department, has been working closely with Judge Sheila Calloway on Restorative Diversion programs for our youth.

But we can always do more and we can always do better – as a government, as a community, as a people – to be a more equitable and to be more inclusive and to make sure that every citizen IS safe, every citizen feels safe, and every citizen has trust in our Police Department and government to serve them and to protect them equally.

Many people, including me, acknowledge that there are systemic issues in our criminal justice system that need to be addressed. Often – interaction with our police is a person’s entry point into the criminal justice system, and that is where we should begin to look at reform.

I, however, see a bigger picture. The majority of crime is rooted in poverty, and while we have to begin to reform the criminal justice system, we also have to make bigger and better strides to reduce and eliminate poverty in our most vulnerable communities. Improving policing is part of the solution and is important, but providing access to quality, affordable housing, providing access to better jobs and financial empowerment, providing access to high quality education – can greatly reduce everyone’s chances of having a law enforcement encounter with a police officer.

And since I came into office 19 months ago, we’re focused on just that – the bigger picture.

General Funk’s decision not to bring criminal charges against Officer Lippert does not close or end those conversations. We must endeavor to ensure that all voices and opinions are heard regarding the laws and policies that govern us all. There are no easy or quick answers, and the conversations can sometimes be difficult and painful, but I have confidence in our Nashville community that we can move forward in a way that makes us a stronger city for all.

Thank you.”

Click here to read more about the Jocques Clemmons case.