Members of the local group Justice For Jocques called off a meeting with Metro Police Chief Steve Anderson, taking issue with the audience he was requesting.
It took a four-hour standoff outside the police headquarters last week — which involved multiple threats of arrests by the property owner where the department rents space for their headquarters, and constant back-and-forth with the police via an intercom — for the agency to finally promise that the chief would hear the group.
The group formed after Jocques Clemmons, an African-American man, was killed by a Metro officer in February after he ran from a traffic stop. They've been backing Clemmons’ mother since his death.
The officer who fatally shot him, Joshua Lippert, has been on desk duty since the incident. An investigation to decide if he’d be fired began in May, and six months later, the family wants a resolution.
Last week, Clemmons’ mother, her husband and Theeda Murphy, the coalition’s organizer, said that Deputy Chief James “Damian” Huggins promised them a meeting with Anderson.
That’s why they say they were surprised Wednesday to hear that the chief would only meet with the parents and that Murphy, who’s been speaking for the family for months, would not be allowed in the room.
Justice for Jocques said this is the reason they decided to back out. They say that this is an attempt to intimidate and isolate the mother, who is already emotionally vulnerable as the first holiday season approaches without her son.
They also accuse Anderson of denying meetings with citizens who’ve raised concern about the department’s practices and setting arbitrary rules about who may or may not attend.
The group said they will continue to fight for a community oversight board to review police shootings — and a bill to create such a group is scheduled for a second reading before the Metro Council in January. In the meantime, they’ll continue to sit outside the East Precinct, as they have for over a month, calling for Lippert’s firing.
Update, Nov. 16, 9 a.m.: A spokesperson for Metro Police says Chief Anderson denied both an initial request for an attorney to be present with the parents followed by the request to be accompanied by Murphy. She says, "Chief Anderson did not want the meeting to be legally adversarial, but rather a personal sincere exchange between himself and Ms. & Mr. Lee." She says Anderson hopes the family will reconsider.