What We Know About The Nashville Officer Involved In Friday's Fatal Shooting | Nashville Public Radio

What We Know About The Nashville Officer Involved In Friday's Fatal Shooting

Feb 14, 2017

The Metro police department has released the personnel file of Joshua Lippert, 32, the officer who fatally shot a man in the Cayce homes last Friday. 

It includes a commendation for saving a life. Lippert was one of only 10 officers to receive the award that year. But it also shows a number of punishable offenses over his five years in the department. The most severe resulted in an eight day suspension for using excessive force during a routine traffic stop.

He pulled a man over for an improper turn. It ended with Lippert physically pulling the motorist out of his car after declining a request to search the vehicle.

Even the supervisor, Sgt. Gene McCollum, who was sent to the scene, said in the report that he worried Lippert didn’t realize the limits of his badge. “He starts asking for consent and pulls the guy out of the vehicle after requesting consent, because he thinks that we can pull anyone out of a vehicle,” McCollum says. “The traffic stop had ended and here we are trying to pull someone out and put him on the ground.”

The search ultimately came up clean: The driver had no record or warrants and there were no drugs or weapons found in the car, according to the report.

Local defense attorney Kyle Mothershead has spent a lot of time looking into Nashville police complaint records. And he says Lippert’s suspension record stands out.

“That’s extremely rare,” Mothershead says of the number of suspensions on Lippert's record. “It’s extremely rare, frankly, to have even one complaint like that to be sustained. And then to get an eight-day suspension.”

Through a lawsuit, Mothershead obtained the department’s master list of all complaints leveled against officers for the past decade. He provided a copy to WPLN. Of the nearly 14,000 entries, the vast majority go unfounded and less than five percent of civilian complaints result in a suspension. If the complaint is leveled against an officer by a supervisor, which is the case with some of Lippert's entries, there was a 36 percent chance it would result in a suspension.

Lippert shows up as being reprimanded 12 times in the past five years. The significant infractions resulted in a total of 20 days of suspension. Others, as minor as smoking in his cruiser, concluded in written and oral warnings as well formal counseling.

In another incident, which resulted in his suspension, Lippert was cited for poor judgment that caused the use of additional force and failing to de-escalate a situation involving the handling of a prisoner, according to police.

Overall, the officer’s record flew under the radar until he confronted Jocques Clemmons, 31, last Friday for running a stop sign. The encounter, resulted in Lippert fatally shooting Clemmons after he fled. The police say Clemmons had gun.

The incident has gotten an emotional response, in part because Lippert is white and Clemmons is black. His family has pointed out that the police were quick to release Clemmons’ criminal history after the shooting. It included 19 traffic violations and a felony drug conviction for which he was on probation.