White former officer reaches plea deal in death of Black man he shot in the back
A white former Nashville police officer will plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter Friday just ahead of his first-degree murder trial, three years after he fatally shot an armed Black man from behind during a foot chase, his lawyer confirmed Thursday.
Attorney David Raybin made the confirmation on behalf of former Officer Andrew Delke, who was about to face trial for a first-degree murder charge over the death of 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick in July 2018. The shooting occurred before the death of George Floyd last year, but the trial would have come after the conviction and sentencing of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd’s murder.
Delke, 27, submitted his resignation Thursday, Metro Nashville Police Department spokesperson Don Aaron said. Delke had already been decommissioned, meaning that he had to turn in his gun but was able to work a desk job and still get paid.
The attorney for Hambrick’s family, Joy Kimbrough, said his mother, Vickie Hambrick, was not contacted or consulted and did not know about the plea deal until after it was done. Kimbrough said the deal included a three-year prison sentence. Raybin declined to comment on any sentence length.
“She’s very upset about it. She’s distraught about it. And she has said it’s like losing her son all over again,” Kimbrough said of Hambrick’s mother.
A spokesperson for Dist. Atty. Glenn Funk said he could not confirm anything.
Will the police officials who testified against Derek Chauvin be as willing to take the stand against the three officers who watched George Floyd die?
After coronavirus delays and pretrial back-and-forth, jury selection was slated to start next week. The trial was going to center on a handgun Hambrick was holding that Delke claims was pointed at him for a moment, which prosecutors dispute and video footage doesn’t show.
Prosecutors focused on surveillance footage that captured the shooting, in which Delke stops chasing and shoots the fleeing man. Defense attorneys contend that there was a 36-foot blind spot and plenty could have happened in that stretch. There were dozens of cameras, and defense attorneys say it’s possible that more footage was caught of that blind spot but wasn’t reviewed by investigators before it was automatically overwritten on the system.
The month after the shooting, Funk released surveillance footage of the shooting publicly, sparking wider attention and outcry. Delke was charged in September 2018, and the shooting caused enough backlash that, two months later, voters installed a community oversight board for Nashville’s police department.
Convicting an officer for an on-duty death remains a tall order. Since 2005, there have been 143 non-federal sworn law-enforcement officers with arrest powers arrested for murder or manslaughter resulting from an on-duty shooting in the U.S., with only 45 convicted of a crime resulting from the shooting, according to a tally by Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University.
Nationwide, police officers who kill unarmed Black people often are not charged, but Dallas County appears to be an outlier.
Delke’s attorneys say he followed his training and Tennessee law in response to “an armed suspect who ignored repeated orders to drop his gun.” Funk contends that Delke had other alternatives, adding that the officer could have stopped, sought cover and called for help.
On the day of the shooting, Delke was in his patrol car as part of a juvenile-focused unit looking for stolen cars and known juvenile offenders. He followed a car despite learning it was not stolen and never saw the driver or determined how many people were inside, according to an arrest affidavit. The car didn’t pull over as it headed onto the interstate and Delke put on the sirens. He followed from a distance and lost track of the car for some time.
Delke later pulled into a public housing complex. Hambrick was standing outside the car Delke had been following and began running. Delke chased Hambrick and yelled at him to stop, though the officer didn’t know Hambrick’s identity or whether he was connected to the car he had been pursuing, the affidavit says.
Hambrick wouldn’t drop a gun despite Delke’s instructions, the affidavit says. Delke “stopped, assumed a firing position and aimed his service weapon,” firing four times, it says. One shot hit Hambrick’s back, another his torso and a third the back of his head. The fourth shot missed.
Nashville’s Metro Council has approved a $2.25-million settlement to resolve a lawsuit by Hambrick’s family.
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