Jocques Clemmons

In the past several years we’ve sadly witnessed several cities riven by rioting and violence in the wake of officer-involved deaths of minority suspects. In the vast majority of those incidents, the local rumor mill began churning out grossly inaccurate descriptions of the incidents long before law enforcement and the criminal justice system could even begin to respond with facts and evidence. Once those rumors were spread and people believed them, the truth became all but irrelevant.

The shooting of 31-year-old fleeing felon Jocques Scott Clemmons by Nashville, Tennessee police officer Josh Lippert on February 10 had many of the necessary elements to contribute to the sort of mob behavior we’ve seen in recent years.

  • A white police officer shot and killed an African-American suspect.
  • Witnesses immediately claimed that the officer shot the suspect in the back.
  • Physical evidence confirms Clemmons was shot in the back.
  • Social media agitators have insisted that this was “murder” from the very beginning.
  • Nashville PD has publicly had to amend their account of the incident, potentially casting their credibility into doubt.

It’s a potential recipe for violence… and yet it hasn’t happened. There have been rallies and marches, but they have all been peaceful, and the “usual suspect” anti-police agitators have not been able to coax an ember into a flame that burns Nashville businesses, despite their best efforts.

Why?

I think a large part of the credit is due to the transparency of the Nashville Police Department, who have taken to social media, the news media, and reached out to both the federal government for oversight and to influential community leaders to share the pipeline of information as it develops, and to maintain the peace.

Nashville PD quickly posted security camera videos that captured part of the incident to the department’s Youtube page.

It is still far too soon to know if officer Josh Lippert’s decision to open fire on Jocques Scott Clemmons was a justifiable officer-involved shooting, or if Lipert’s decision to fire violated department procedures and/or the law.

What is very commendable, however, is the transparency of the Nashville Police Department in this incident, and the lead they are taking to not only ensure a thorough investigation, but to keep community leaders engaged and informed so that they can help cooler heads prevail and the criminal justice system time to sort out the facts, without the horrific rumor-driven speculation and lies that have seen other communities ripped apart.