Why the Metro Nashville Police Chief Chose to Meet with Black Clergy About the Officer-Involved Shooting of Jocques Clemmons

One of the first things Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson did on Monday in the aftermath of a fatal police shooting was meet with black church leaders.

He did so before the department announced the FBI would be monitoring its investigation into the shooting that killed Jocques Clemmons, a 31-year-old black man.

And the chief held the meeting even before speaking at a news conference where he pledged that nothing would be concealed and the department’s investigation into Friday’s shooting would be as open as possible.

“Their congregations touch a lot of people,” Anderson said at the news conference. “We wanted them to know — in fact the same thing that I’m saying here today — that we’re looking into this very closely, the investigation goes on, all the facts go out.

“Again we wanted to share with them that the credibility of our police department is very important to us and we won’t jeopardize it for this investigation or any other investigation.”

A commitment to transparency is paramount in this case given that other police departments across the U.S. whose officers have shot and killed black men have faced criticism for withholding information from the public, said the Rev. George Brooks, pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church, who attended Monday’s midday meeting.

“We want to know the truth, and the police department wants to know the truth,” Brooks said. “I think they’ve done well in handling it because they have put all the cards on the table as far as I can see.”

Clemmons died during surgery Friday. He had been shot in the back and hip by Metro Police Officer Joshua Lippert after a traffic stop in the James Cayce public housing development, police said. Clemmons had a gun, police said. Lippert believed he was in danger and opened fire, police said. Lippert is on routine administrative leave.

Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the Nashville branch of the NAACP have called for a thorough investigation into the shooting death and pushed for Nashville police to wear body cameras. On Tuesday night, residents, including members of the Nashville chapter of Black Lives Matter, marched through downtown for Clemmons.

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Source: The Tennessean | Holly Meyer

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