The relationship between James Cayce residents and Nashville police is a tenuous one. In this episode, we explore two defining moments in Cayce: A viral cell phone video of a police officer being assaulted, and the most controversial police shooting in the city’s recent history. Both were caught on camera. And both reveal the strain between the people who live in Cayce and the people who patrol it.
The episode begins with Nashville Police Officer Matthew Cammarn, who responds to a call in the East Nashville public housing complex and ends up in a physical altercation that’s caught on cell phone video. Grainy and crude, the video quickly went viral. Getting millions of views and national media coverage, it was a defining moment in Cayce. It also changed Cammarn’s life, and caused police to bear down on the complex in a way they hadn’t before. But more broadly, the April 2016 incident laid bare the fractured relationship between the community and the police.
Then, ten months after the fight in Cayce, on a warm Friday afternoon in early February 2017, a man named Jocques Clemmons runs a stop sign in Cayce. An officer named Joshua Lippert pulls up behind him, blue lights flashing. What begins as a basic traffic stop ends in a fatal shooting. Lippert shoots Clemmons three times in the back, killing him. Clemmons was black and Officer Lippert, white. And it was all caught on camera.
For years, similar stories had been playing out around the country. And Suddenly, Nashville was in the middle of its own.
Our theme music is by The Insider, additional music by Fleslit, all found through the Free Music Archive.
Writing and reporting: Meribah Knight
Editing: Blake Farmer, Anita Bugg. With additional help from Tony Gonzalez, Emily Siner, Chas Sisk
Sound Design: Tony Gonzalez
Archival news clips were from News Channel 5 and WKRN. With additional audio from the Metro Nashville Police Department and Andrew Hunter.