NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro-Nashville police officer Josh Lippert will not face state criminal charges for the Feb. 10 shooting death of Jocques Clemmons.
Officer Lippert shot and killed the 31-year-old man during a confrontation on South Sixth Street in the James Cayce public housing development during a traffic stop.
According to an investigative report, Lippert stopped Clemmons after he did not stop at a stop sign at South Sixth and Summer Place.
The report, released by Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk, stated, “Independent witness Person 1 was in the parking lot when these events occurred. She was a short distance from the incident. She observed Mr. Clemmons with a handgun. Person 1 observed Mr. Clemmons arm himself by picking the handgun off the ground during the altercation with Officer Lippert. The statements of Person 1 and Officer Lippert corroborate each other, and both of their statements are sufficiently corroborated by MDHA video.”
The report continues, “Based on the facts of this incident, and the application of the law of self-defense in the State of Tennessee, Officer Lippert has a legally sufficient claim of self-defense. Therefore, the state will not pursue criminal charges against Officer Lippert.”
The DA’s report also showed the internal investigation by Metro police into whether Lippert violated department policy during the incident “exonerated” him March 27, which is before the TBI investigation was complete.
The internal Metro investigation reviewed Officer Lippert’s use of force, crime scene protection, and investigation. He remained on paid administrative assignment during both investigations.
General Funk’s report also addressed the perception that the Metro Nashville Police Department has unfair police practices, saying, “The Driving While Black report, which used statistical analysis to demonstrate disparity in traffic stops and searches, documented that these perceptions may have a valid basis in fact.”
The DA added, “For Nashville to move forward, all law enforcement, including my office, must take steps to enhance fairness and confidence in the criminal justice system.”
Funk is recommending Nashville’s mayor Megan Barry and the police department meet with his office do the following:
- A joint study to review the potential issues presented in the Driving While Black report.
- Whether or not MNPD should formally review incidents involving officers drawing weapons, whether the weapon was discharged or not.
- Policies to further encourage intentional, deliberate recruitment of minority personnel.
- Funding for the Restorative Justice Program. The Office of the District Attorney General is committed to partnering with Juvenile Court to establish a Restorative Justice Program this year wherein victims can be fully supported while juvenile offenders have the opportunity to avoid detention for some specific, agreed upon charges.
During a public announcement on Funk’s decision Thursday, there was also some criticism from the DA’s office about the Metro police reports that may have appeared to show bias against Clemmons in the case.
The DA’s office said police reports early on indicated the case was justifiable, even before the investigation was complete.
Metro-Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson rejected any allegations of bias during the investigation, saying maybe the DA’s office misread that report, which also indicated that the case was still open.
“You can make allegations of bias, but unless you can show me some reason why that, we looked at something in a matter that it shouldn’t have been looked at, I just can’t address it,” he told the media.
News 2 asked about whether this case has driven a wedge between his office and that of the district attorney. The chief said they are both entitled to opinions, and sometimes they have differences of opinion. Click here to read more on the chief’s remarks Thursday.