Nashville Police Officer Andrew Delke is now being indicted for murder in the first degree for the shooting death of Daniel Hambrick. At 25 years old, Delke is the only officer with Nashville to have been charged following a shooting on-duty.
According to prosecutors, Hambrick was in a parking lot when he was observed by Delke, while the officer was pursuing a traffic stop. Upon seeing Delke, Hambrick fled the area. Delke, in turn, left his vehicle and pursued Hambrick. During the course of the foot race, Delke shot Hambrick three times in the back.
Delke has stated that his actions were in self-defense after he saw Hambrick carried a gun. Hambrick did not follow Delke’s commands to drop the weapon, and Delke opened fire. However, according to video surveillance from the area and other evidence obtained by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, it is alleged that it was not a clean shoot. Judge Melissa Blackburn, a General Sessions judge for Davidson County determined that Delke’s actions were inappropriate. She said that the victim’s behavior that day did not warrant lethal force being used.
Blackburn turned the case over to a grand jury who determined that lesser charges were not appropriate in this case. They felt the evidence from Delke’s actions showed premeditation and set the charge for first-degree murder.
Some are viewing the charge as “heavy,” pointing out that it us unusual for a lower charge to not be chosen in this kind of incident involving an officer. Previous federal prosecutor Alex Little proposed that the grand jury is sending the message that this is a case that needs a high level of scrutiny and attention. He also said that the heavier charge would make prosecuting the case more difficult as it sets a higher bar.
David Raybin, Delke’s lawyer, made a statement saying his client would, “continue to defend himself on the basis that he acted in accordance with his training and Tennessee law in response to an armed suspect who ignored repeated orders to drop his gun.”
Other sources, like the Fraternal Order of Police in Nashville, claim that this charge is motivated by politics. They believe the incident was handled properly and Delke was following proper procedure and training when he shot Hambrick. Their statement claims that his actions were not a crime and were the same as officers around America are trained to take.
On the other side, religious and activist organizations are championing the arrest and trial. Reverend James Turner II sees the case as a step closer to true justice. He sees the challenge ahead in convicting Delke, but is prepared to watch and wait as prosecutors take on the next obstacle.
Delke is still employed, but is on administrative leave until the investigation and trial have been completed. He will face arraignment in the case later in the month.