Mayor admonishes police chief, DA over 'war of words' - WSMV News 4

Mayor admonishes police chief, DA over 'war of words,' seeks changes to practices

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Mayor Megan Barry (Source: Mayor's Office) Mayor Megan Barry (Source: Mayor's Office)

Mayor Megan Barry called a meeting Friday morning between Police Chief Steve Anderson and Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk meant to put an end to the "war of words" between the two city officials.

The police department and district attorney's office have repeatedly disagreed on how to investigate officer-involved fatal shooting and in what manner.

Their disputes reached a boiling point following a press conference where Funk announced he would not recommend indicting Metro Police Officer Joshua Lippert for shooting and killing Jocques Clemmons. In that press conference, Funk and Deputy District Attorney Amy Hunter outlined instances where bias could be perceived because of the way Metro police right there reports.

Chief Anderson, who did not attend the DA's press conference, held his own press event immediately following. He refuted the DA's claims of bias and said the department follows TBI reporting guidelines.

"The concerns that were raised by General Funk during that were not germane to his ultimate decision not to indict the office," Barry said. "So it would have been much more appropriate to discuss that MNPD in advance of that press conference so that they could have had a better opportunity to discuss and explain any of the possible misunderstandings."

Barry also expressed disdain for Anderson's decision to write a letter subsequently criticizing Hunter. Barry called the letter harsh.

In the letter, dated May 15, Anderson wrote that Hunter may have, "deliberately misstated the facts." He went on to say Hunter's statements in the press conference "defies any common sense evaluation."

Barry said some critical next steps are needed to move forward, and she announced a short list of immediate changes.

In the future, Barry said the Metro Police's Office of Professional Accountability should refrain from issuing any reports or recommendations on an officer-involved use-of-force case until the criminal investigation into the officer's actions is closed.

Barry said the police department and the DA's office will also have to have a joint training program to create better understanding of policies and procedures on both sides.

"While the TBI has not released guidance to local enforcement organizations on how to investigate officer-involved shootings, we have now received their internal standard operating procedure manual, and I have asked the MNPD to review and adopt any of the best practices for any use of force investigations to make sure we have community trust when we have those findings," Barry said.

Barry said the police department, the TBI and the DA's office will also need to reviewing and possibly amend the memorandum of understanding they signed to revise to clarify roles of each department. As an example of one discrepancy in executing the MOU, Barry referenced a domestic shooting in Antioch on Tuesday where the TBI was called in by the DA to investigate, but Metro police on the scene of the critical shooting told agents they were not needed because the shooting wasn't fatal.

"There is no indication that the MNPD has deviated from those guidelines in the incident that occurred in Antioch. However, it is apparent that issues have arisen that may need to be addressed through amendments and revisions to the MOU in order to further clarify each agency's role in the future," Barry said.

"I believe that these steps will help resolve some lingering questions of fact and opinion, while enhancing trust and cooperation between the two organization," Barry added.

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