DA will not file charges against officer, raises concerns about Metro PD reporting
NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Davidson County District Attorney General Glenn Funk will not recommend charges be brought against the Metro Police officer who fatally shot Jocques Clemmons.
During a press conference on Thursday, Funk said Officer Josh Lippert will not face charges in the February shooting outside of Cayce Homes.
Also on hand for the announcement were TBI Director Mark Gwyn, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, ,Deputy D.A. Roger Moore, and several clergy members.
Funk opened the statement saying "It's important we remember theses are two people....we believe that all lives in this community are valuable."
Assistant District Attorney Ed Ryan says the finding were based on MDHA videos, witnesses, and investigative reports. Ryan says while watching the videos, it was clear Clemmons ran a stop sign which prompted Officer Lippert to pull Clemmons over.
During a showing of the video, Clemmons can be seen trying to run past Officer Lippert before turning and running in the opposite direction. Officer Lippert caught up to Lippert, pushing Clemmons to the ground and pulling out his taser. Clemmons gets up, begins to run towards his vehicle. That is when a weapon fell from Clemmons' person. Clemmons picked up the handgun and Officer Lippert drew his weapon. Assistant DA Ryan says as Clemmons held the gun above his waist and in the direction of Officer Lippert, that is when Lippert fired three shots. Two entering the back of Clemmons and another in his hip. Officer Lippert then secured Clemmons' weapon and an ambulance was called.
Assistant DA Marcus Floyd described the wounds suffered by Clemmons, one of the bullets penetrating Clemmons' rib and liver.
Clemmons was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he died from his wounds.
DA Funk says the TBI investigation findings will be on hold until a May 22nd ruling by a judge on whether or not the findings should be released to the public.
Deputy DA Amy Hunter followed Funk, identifying "concerns" by the DA office in terms of the Metro Nashville Police investigation/reporting. Hunter said the first concern is many of the offense descriptions and wording of MNPD reports projected an appearance of bias. Hunter says on one report, the status of the investigation was reported as "completed" and as being "justifiable homicide" despite the investigation just starting.
The second concern is "at least 29 reports" taken by police which were written could also be interpreted as bias. The victim listed in the reports are Officer Josh Lippert, the suspect Clemmons, and the offense being aggravated assault. "It seems insensitive since no charges could be filed by Clemmons," Hunter says.
The third point of concern was Metro Police investigating itself, possibly making witnessess become "distrustful" of the process. The DA's office says "significant differences" in the interviews of a witness in the Clemmons case exist when the MNPD report is compared to the TBI report. Had MNPD not been investigating itself, "any perception that these differences could be attributed to bias would not exist," Assistant DA Byron Pugh stated.
The fourth concern is how the MNPD's Office of Professional Accountability recommended Officer Lippert be exonerated despite the TBI investigation and report not being completed.
In light of the concerns, TBI Director Mark Gwyn says the agency has developed a manual for how to handle officer-involved shootings and the agency's involvement.
District Attorney General Moore summarized the potential charge against Lippert, saying "the only degree of homicide" applicable to the case is "2nd Degree Murder," which is caused without legal justification (unlawfully) and knowingly. Under those definitions, a person acting in self-defense is by definition not acting unlawfully. "The law of self defense in Tennessee focuses if the accused reasonably believed their life was in danger," Moore said.
Based on Clemmons arming himself after dropping the weapon, disregarding Officer Lippert's instructions, witness interviews, videos, and the application of the law, Officer Josh Lippert will not faces charges.