Nashville, TN – The courtroom erupted into chaos on Friday morning during a hearing for former Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) Officer Andrew Delke to plead guilty to manslaughter under a three-year deal strongly opposed by the family of the man he shot.
Delke had been facing murder charges in the on-duty shooting of 25- year-old Daniel Hambrick on July 26, 2018.
When court was called to order at 9:30 a.m. on July 2, a lawyer for the Hambrick family asked the judge to reject Delke’s plea deal with the district attorney, the Tennessean reported.
“On behalf of the family, the attorneys for the family and the general public, we’re asking you as your citizens, citizens of this community, Judge Monte Watkins, that you reject this plea agreement,” attorney Joy Kimbrough told the judge.
But the plea deal didn’t require approval from Hambrick’s family and the judge approved it, the Tennessean reported.
When Davidson County Judge Monte Watkins started asking Delke questions, Hambrick’s mother exploded, WZTV reported.
“You’re a damn liar,” Vickie Hambrick screamed from the gallery at one point.
Then the former police officer read a statement during which he took responsibility for Hambrick’s death and the man’s mother went even more ballistic, WZTV reported.
“Because of you. I lost my son because of you. I hate you. I don’t accept your apology,” Vickie Hambrick screamed across the courtroom and pointed at Delke.
The mother’s emotional outburst went on for minutes and then she tried to knock over the prosecutor’s table, The Tennessean reported.
Other supporters of the Hambrick family who were in the courtroom became agitated and the judge had Delke removed from the space for his safety while things were calmed down.
— HarrietWallaceFox17 (@HarrietvWallace) July 2, 2021
Watkins stopped the proceedings and ordered the courtroom cleared, according to the Tennessean.
When the sentencing hearing resumed, the judge accepted Delke’s plea and sentenced him to three years behind bars in accordance with the plea agreement.
Despite the outrage of Hambrick’s family and the protesters outside the courthouse, District Attorney General Glenn Funk declared the resolution of the case a victory, the Tennessean reported.
“The reality is tonight, for the first time ever, a Nashville officer is going to bed in jail for killing a black man,” Funk said. “Nashville officers now know they will be held accountable for their actions.”
The district attorney said the case against Delke would not have been a slam-dunk if they had gone to trial, the Tennessean reported.
“Daniel Hambrick’s life is worth more than three years,” Fun admitted. “But it’s all of the facts in this case that make this the right disposition. In my best judgement, not only is it appropriate, but in this case, it’s what’s best for Nashville.”
School surveillance cameras captured the shooting on video after Hambrick jumped out of a vehicle armed with a gun in ahis hand and fled from then-Officer Delke three year ago.
Officer Delke radioed for backup, then chased Hambrick through the residential area.
Although Hambrick was running away from Officer Delke, he was also running towards other officers arriving at the scene, and was still holding a handgun as he fled, the former officer’s attorney, David Raybin, told The New York Times.
“Tennessee law permits a police officer to use deadly force when there is a danger to others,” Raybin said. “Officer Delke was protecting himself, his backup officers and the public.”
Surveillance footage showed Officer Delke as he chased after the armed suspect through the parking lot of the housing complex.
A different camera angle showed Hambrick as he rounded a corner and sprinted across lawns with the officer following close behind.
Officer Delke repeatedly ordered Hambrick to drop the weapon, but he refused, Nashville Fraternal Order of Police President James Smallwood said.
Fatal police-involved shooting under investigation at 17th Ave N & Jo Johnston Ave. 25-year-old man who carried this gun was shot by MNPD officer. pic.twitter.com/yZrNEUQMQr
— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) July 27, 2018
Despite the fact that the armed suspect could have easily shot at the officer at any time, Hambrick’s family claimed he posed no risk to anyone and that it was legal to run from the police, according to the New York Post.
“I don’t care if I have a hand grenade in my pocket,” his uncle, Sam Hambrick said, according to the New York Post. “If I’m running away, I can’t be a threat to you.”
Hambrick’s family sued the city in federal court and claimed the incident showed the “culture of fear, violence, racism and impunity” in the police department, the Tennessean reported.
Nashville settled the wrongful death suit for $2.25 million earlier this year.
Delke was booked into the Nashville-Davidson County Sheriff’s Downtown Detention Center late Friday morning, according to a press release from the sheriff’s department.