Expert shares insight on justified deadly force shootings - WSMV Channel 4

Expert shares insight on justified deadly force shootings

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Jocques Clemmons was shot and killed by a Metro police officer after a traffic stop on Feb. 10. (WSMV file photo) Jocques Clemmons was shot and killed by a Metro police officer after a traffic stop on Feb. 10. (WSMV file photo)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

One thing that makes the Jocques Clemmons case complex is that police say Clemmons dropped a gun while trying to flee and picked it back up.

Channel 4 asked if the mere presence of a gun makes a police shooting justified and what are officers taught?

Officer Joshua Lippert told investigators in initial interviews that he feared for his life because he said Clemmons had a gun that was rising up his waist as he ran.

“I see the barrel of the snub nose .38. I want to say .38,” Lippert said in a taped interview. “It started coming waist high, and at that point I fired.”

Metro police released a picture of the gun found at the scene, they say belonged to Clemmons. Clemmons’ family argued there was no proof the gun belonged to the shooting victim and there was no DNA evidence to prove it.

Channel 4 spoke to Bob Allen, the training director at Royal Range Firearms. He was a Metro police officer for 34 years and spent more than 20 years training officers.

He said, according to training standards, simply seeing a gun is not enough reason to justify shooting a suspect.

“The presence of the firearm makes use of deadly force a lot of times appropriate, not all the time,” Allen said. “If it starts to point in your direction or they're out facing you, sideways to you, or if I’ve turned my back to you, if it starts to come in your direction and you believe I'm going to use it against you -- which is what I'm going to believe if it starts pointing toward me -- then it's OK to use deadly force. It's approved. It's taught in training academies across the nation.”

Allen said if a suspect is running away with a gun, even after ignoring commands, an officer is supposed to chase. Allen said they hope the suspect would drop the gun and give up as an officer calls for backup.

He said even reading facial expressions to gauge intent may not meet the threshold.

“Seeing what I think you're believing in your face still doesn't fully justify things,” Allen said. “The officer has to believe, and they're all taught this, that I believe you're raising that toward me. I believe you're using that against me. If they believe that, that's what they're taught in training they have to believe that to be correct in using deadly force.”

He said he understands the family’s frustration, but also understands how difficult the job is in split second moments. Allen said no officer wants to use deadly force.

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