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ACLU, community groups disappointed with DA's decision not to charge Nashville officer

PHOTO: MNPD

Gideon's Army, Nashville clergy members and the ACLU said they're disappointed in the DA's decision not to charge Officer Josh Lippert for the shooting death of Jocques Clemmons.

Lippert shot and killed Jocques Clemmons Feb. 10 near Cayce Homes. The DA said Lippert attempted a traffic stop after Clemmons ran a stop sign and pulled into the complex. A confrontation ensued, and Lippert shot Clemmons three times.

DA Glenn Funk announced Thursday that Lippert acted in self-defense so the office will not file any criminal charges against him.

Gideon's Army founder, Rasheedat Fetuga, said despite the decision, there is more to be done.

"Regardless of whether or not you believe Officer Lippert should have been charged, there has to be an acknowledgement of several complaints against this officer for the way the he treats black civilians," Fetuga said. "Because of that, it is definitely imperative that we look at firing Officer Lippert and getting him off of the streets.

Following a critique of possible bias in Metro Police's internal investigation, the DA announced new initiatives to address systematic problems stemming from Clemmons' death.

Pastor Breonis Mitchell from Mt. Gilead Church thanked the DA's office for listening to faith leaders throughout the investigation.

"To those individuals and communities affected by this situation, let me say the right to protest is a right; however any protest today or in ongoing days that leads to illegal activity and the destruction of public property is not right," Breonis said. "Those of us who have fought for the issues of social justice and equality in this city are and will be hindered by those of you who respond in manners that are illicit and illegal."

Pastor John Faison from Watson Grove Missionary Baptist Church said it is extremely disappointing to have no charges filed against officer Lippert.

"This will continue to impact the community's lack of trust in MNPD and the belief that officers are not held to the same level of accountability as citizens, particularly citizens of color," Faison said.

Hedy Weinberg, ACLU of Tennessee executive director, said the decision not to charge Lippert leaves behind doubt and questions for Nashville.

She issued the following statement:

"No matter the result of these investigations, Mr. Clemmons' death was a tragedy. Regardless of whether or not the facts should have resulted in criminal charges, at the end of the day Mr. Clemmons should still be alive. Far too many Black people have died at the hands of law enforcement across this country.

The district attorney's decision not to bring charges against the officer who shot and killed Jocques Clemmons leaves behind a cloud of profound and unsettling questions for the city of Nashville. If Officer Lippert did not violate the law, then is anyone responsible for Jocques Clemmons' death? How can we stop the escalation of conflict that brings discretionary stops — which happen more frequently to Black people in virtually every patrol zone in the city — to tragic endings? How will the city and the police department ensure that a tragedy like this does not happen in the future?

We must find a way to make policing more fair, equitable and safe for all Nashville residents.

We repeat our call to city leaders for basic reforms, including the swift deployment of police body cameras, with policies in place to protect privacy and to ensure public access to footage related to the use of excessive force. We urge the police chief to pursue comprehensive review by an independent body of the department's tactics, training and investigatory protocol, particularly as they relate to racial profiling, implicit bias and de-escalation. We also call once again on the city to establish an independent community oversight board, with robust power to investigate and hold law enforcement accountable.

Additionally, we applaud and support Attorney General Funk's recommendations for reforms, which we believe will help move our city toward justice, fairness and equal treatment for all Nashvillians.

We urge the mayor and police chief to support these reforms to stem the erosion of community-police relations and to promote basic accountability and transparency."

Black Lives Matter Nashville also responded saying the many in the city are not shocked but angry.

"While this announcement is disheartening, we know fully the long history of charges being dropped, cases dismissed, or officers not being indicted when it comes to Black people being murdered by the police," Black Live Matter Nashville said in a statement to Fox17. "For this reason, many in the city are not shocked, but instead angry. Angry that despite someone being shot in the back and killed by an officer who has a record of excessive force- the officer walks free."

Read the group's full statement below or click here on mobile.



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