ACLU-TN Statement on Jocques Clemmons Shooting

Affiliate: ACLU of Tennessee
February 14, 2017 3:45 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Tennessee
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NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee released the following statement from ACLU-TN executive director Hedy Weinberg in response to the fatal shooting of Jocques Clemmons:

“The ACLU of Tennessee extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jocques Clemmons.

We join with the other organizations that have called for a swift, thorough and transparent investigation into Mr. Clemmons’ death at the hands of law enforcement. This fatal shooting raises serious questions and we welcome the FBI’s oversight of the investigation as an independent entity.

The shooting of Jocques Clemmons did not happen in a vacuum. While further investigation will undoubtedly focus on uncovering additional details about what occurred after Officer Joshua Lippert stopped Mr. Clemmons, incidents like these also compel us to take a step back and ask why Mr. Clemmons was stopped in the first place and how officers make decisions about who to stop for minor traffic infractions. In Nashville, Black people are much more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people in virtually every police patrol zone in the city, according to a recent report. Any one discretionary stop risks a tragic ending if there is an escalation of conflict – far too frequently such escalations result in police use of force, and also expose police to unnecessary risk. We must find ways to combat the over-policing of communities of color.

Incidents like these also require us to take stock of broader reforms necessary to promote constitutional and equitable policing, and to counteract the continuing erosion of community trust in police. Basic reforms needed include the deployment of police body cameras, with policies in place both to protect privacy and to ensure public access to footage related to the use of excessive force. In addition, the city should establish an independent civilian review board, with robust power to investigate and hold law enforcement accountable. We call on the mayor and the police chief to support these reforms, to improve community-police relations and promote basic accountability.

We recognize that an open investigation, body cameras and an independent civilian review board are not a quick-fix or a panacea – truly improving community-police relations and ensuring that people are treated fairly by police regardless of race will require an ongoing and multi-dimensional effort. However, these initial measures are vital to moving the city in the right direction.”

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