Police oversight board asks mayor to intervene in conflict

Published 2:32 pm Thursday, June 4, 2020

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Nashville’s police oversight board is asking the mayor to reconvene the task force that developed its memorandum of understanding with the police department after board and staff members said they have not been receiving the full cooperation of the police department. The call came after a police shooting Wednesday.
Officers were responding to a complaint from Jotez Anderson’s ex-girlfriend who said the man’s current girlfriend had pointed a gun at her and that Anderson was also armed and had an outstanding warrant, according to Metro Nashville Police. Two officers opened fire when Anderson pointed a gun at them, police said. He was wounded in the hand and transported to the hospital.
The shooting comes as community tensions run high. Nashville has seen days of protests over the May 25 death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee to his neck. Peaceful daytime protests on Saturday turned destructive that evening as demonstrators toppled a statue of a former state lawmaker who espoused racist views and set a fire inside the city’s historic courthouse.
A Tuesday public hearing on the city’s budget lasted until 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday as hundreds of people showed up or called in asking the council to defund police and put more money into social services. Videos posted to social media show Vice Mayor Jim Shulman angrily lecturing those waiting to speak and jabbing his finger at them as he accuses them of engaging in “bad politics.”
After learning of the Wednesday shooting, Community Oversight Board Director Jill Fitcheard went to the scene along with other staff members, Board Chair Ashlee Davis said. They left after waiting two hours for a briefing.
Davis, who was not at the scene, said police never acknowledged the staff members waiting for information. She said there was a lack of basic communication between police and staff. She said this comes after two other police-involved shootings in recent weeks that the board was either not told about or not given full information about.
Police later issued their own statement, titled “MNPD Cooperation Continues with Community Oversight Board,” in which the police Office of Professional Accountability Director Kathy Morante is quoted at length.
Morante says she waited at the scene along with oversight board staff until they left just before 9 a.m. A few minutes later, a police captain came looking for them to brief them about the shooting. Morante says she called one of the board members and gave him the captain’s cell phone number. The news release goes on to say that a lieutenant tried to reach board members at 11:30 to conduct a walk-through of the scene with them. Neither officer had heard back from board members as of 5:30 p.m., the news release states.
Davis said that by the time police contacted staff, executive director Jill Fitcheard was already in touch with Mayor John Cooper’s office.
In a news release, the board requests that Cooper “reconvene the MOU Negotiation Taskforce to address the issues that have become apparent. The COB and its staff have found that MNPD is less than forthcoming with information and continues to choose actions that deliberately slow down or misinform the MNCO.”
“The full involvement and engagement of the MNCO is not optional because transparency and trust between the Nashville community and MNPD is not optional,” the news release states.

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