Nashville, TN—The Estate of Jocques Scott Clemmons, the Nashville man who was fatally shot in the back by Metro Nashville Police Officer Joshua Lippert on February 10, 2017, has filed a lawsuit regarding the MNPD’s successful efforts to search his social media accounts following his death.
Days after Mr. Clemmons was killed, MNPD Officer Danny Satterfield filed three separate search warrant applications seeking “any/all data contained and/or stored within” Mr. Clemmons’ Facebook account, Instagram account, and cellular telephone. Without any stated time or content limitation whatsoever, the warrants specifically sought Mr. Clemmons’ “pictures, videos, audio, text messages, incoming/outgoing Facebook Messanger [sic] conversations, voicemails, chat logs, contact information, call logs, emails, internet data, Wi-Fi data, IP address(es), search history, maps, locations, GPS data, drafts, deleted files/folders, etc.” Officer Satterfield also sought nearly identical information from Mr. Clemmons’ Instagram account and cell phone.
Mr. Clemmons was already deceased at the time of Officer Satterfield’s warrant applications. Accordingly, he was not subject to arrest for any crime. Even so, Officer Satterfield claimed that the warrants were necessary to investigate an “aggravated assault” that Mr. Clemmons had committed against Officer Lippert. Notably, however, video released prior to Officer Satterfield’s warrant applications had already revealed that the altercation that Officer Satterfield claimed to be investigating had not occurred.
Officer Satterfield’s warrant applications stated under oath that he had probable cause to believe that all of the data on Mr. Clemmons’ social media accounts and cell phone contained evidence of Mr. Clemmons’ supposed aggravated assault against Officer Lippert. In a subsequent statement, however, the MNPD acknowledged that whether Mr. Clemmons’ social media accounts or cell phone contained any relevant evidence was, in fact, “unknown.” Based on the warrants’ lack of probable cause and several other constitutional deficiencies, Mr. Clemmons’ estate has filed suit seeking the return of all property seized as a result of Officer Satterfield’s defective search warrants.
“Mr. Clemmons’ Facebook and Instagram accounts had no conceivable bearing on the supposed crime that the MNPD claimed to be investigating, and Officer Satterfield’s comically unconstitutional warrant applications did not even bother to pretend that they did,” said Nashville attorney Daniel Horwitz, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Clemmons’ estate. “Further, at the time that Officer Satterfield applied for the search warrants at issue, there was literally nobody on earth who was less likely to be arrested than Mr. Clemmons, who had been deceased for nearly a week. These search warrants could not have been any less valid if they were written in crayon.”
“We hope that the Mayor and the MNPD will do right by Mr. Clemmons’ family by returning his cell phone and relinquishing whatever private information they pulled from his social media accounts in their effort to assassinate his character,” Horwitz added.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The plaintiff’s pleadings are copied below.
Selected Media Coverage
The Nashville Scene: It’s Been One Year Since the Jocques Clemmons Shooting