On February 10, 2017, Metro Nashville Police Officer Joshua Lippert shot and killed 31-year-old Jocques S. Clemmons. The victim was struck three times, once in the hip and twice in the back. The incident began when Lippert initiated a traffic stop when Clemmons, driving a gray SUV, failed to stop at a stop sign.
Clemmons attempted to flee the scene, with Lippert in pursuit. Police say Clemmons looked to have something in his waistband during the chase, and when Lippert caught up to him again, a .357 Magnum dropped onto the street.
Lippert felt his life was in danger when Clemmons picked up the gun and then refused to drop it. The officer said Clemmons behavior as an “it’s me or you look in his eye”. An eyewitness told police she saw the suspect resisting and heard Lippert shout commands to Clemmons to stop and put his hands up.
The two then moved out of her view and seconds later, she heard three shots. At that time, Lippert approached the suspect and rendered aid. Clemmons was taken to the hospital, where he later died during surgery.
Officer Lippert has been a member of the Nashville Police Department for the past five years. He’s been suspended for a combined 20 days for various code violations, including use of force. He was assigned administrative duties during the course of this investigation. Today, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk said they would not be pressing charges against Lippert.
This decision met with protests from some in the community. Nashville NAACP President Ludye N. Wallace said, “We value the efforts of police when they are serving and protecting, however, we will not standby and allow disproportionate violence against African Americans. We need an immediate and transparent, complete and expedient investigation that is led by the district attorney and even, if necessary, federal agencies.”
Clemmons has a criminal history dating back to at least 2003. These include more than a dozen misdemeanor traffic violations. At the time of the incident, Clemmons was on probation for a 2014 drug conviction. His offenses include:
- Assault (convicted in 2004)
- Driving without a license (convicted in 2010)
- Possession of controlled substance (convicted in 2011)
- Driving with a suspended license (convicted in 2012)
- Misdemeanor domestic assault (convicted in 2012)
- Driving with a suspended license (convicted in 2013)
- Possession with intent to deliver controlled substance (convicted in 2014)
- Driving with a suspended license (convicted in 2014)
Police suspect that Clemmons ran from Lippert because he was a felon carrying an unlicensed, concealed firearm and was currently on probation.
And to add another twist to this story, the Ruger .357 Magnum in Clemmons’ possession was reported stolen over 15 years ago. Authorities tracked the gun to a woman who lives in Ashland City, who purchased it at a gun show in Smyrna in October, 2001. The woman told police she reported the gun stolen in 2001 or 2002.
She suspected a family member was involved in the theft of the firearm, and Cheatham County investigators told her they would probably never find the gun.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives maintains a “time to crime” statistic, the national average time between firearm purchases and their use in a crime. For 2015, this time frame was 10.48 years.