By Chris Kenning
(Reuters) - A white Nashville police officer who fatally shot a black man in February near a public housing project will not face criminal charges, Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk said on Thursday.
Metro Nashville Police Officer Joshua Lippert had sufficient claim to self-defense in the Feb. 10 shooting of Jocques Clemmons to not be charged, Funk wrote in a report posted online.
Clemmons' death sparked protests in Nashville over the use of deadly-force by police, particularly against minorities.
At a press conference on Thursday after the decision not to charge Lippert was made public, local pastor Breonus Mitchell called for peace, saying civil unrest and damaging property was not going to help the community heal, the Tennessean newspaper reported.
Lippert initially pulled Clemmons, 31, over for running a stop sign, according to the district attorney's online report. Clemmons tried to evade Lippert and during a foot pursuit a handgun fell from Clemmons' clothing, the report said.
Clemmons grabbed the gun and at one point the weapon was pointed at the officer, who fired three times at Clemmons, according to the report.
Neither the district attorney nor police could be reached for comment.
Clemmons' relatives and supporters disputed the findings and called for police reforms at a live-streamed press conference.
Metro Nashville Police released an internal affairs report that said Lippert should be exonerated in the case, according to the Tennessean.
Police prepared their incident report on the day of the shooting, listing it as "justifiable homicide" and the status of the investigation "completed" even though surveillance video had not yet been collected, the neighborhood had not yet been canvassed and other elements of the investigation had not been completed, the district attorney's report said.
"Because of this, it will be difficult for many to perceive MNPD's investigation as fair," the report added.
The decision "leaves behind a cloud of profound and unsettling questions for the city of Nashville," Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, said in a statement.
Weinberg called for measures such as police body cameras, an independent review of police tactics and a new community oversight board.
(Reporting by Chris Kenning; Editing by Andrew Hay)