Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk says an eyewitness played a key part in his decision not to prosecute Officer Joshua Lippert for the February killing of Jocques Clemmons.
Without that account, he might not have ever determined whether Lippert acted in self-defense.
The woman has not been identified by name. Funk says she's a resident of the Cayce Homes complex and was in the parking lot as Lippert chased Clemmons shortly after noon on February 10.
Funk says he interviewed the woman himself, with help from another prosecutor. That, not the grainy video of the incident captured by the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency, is what convinced him Lippert shouldn't be charged.
"Because it's seven frames per second and because it's MDHA video that cannot be enhanced to the point where we can see it like we're watching 'CSI' or something — what that video does it corroborates what her observations were," Funk said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.
Funk says the woman saw Clemmons drop a gun, pick it back up and then point it in Lippert's general direction. That means Lippert was justified in pulling the trigger.
But the woman had not been identified when Metro Police made its earliest determination that Lippert acted properly. And Funk's office says that's a problem.
They say MNPD procedures after the shooting created a perception of bias, even if there was none. He notes witnesses are often unwilling to speak with police when they're essentially investigating themselves. And, he says, Metro Police should not have exonerated Lippert until the entire investigation was complete.