NASHVILLE, Tenn. – An emotional scene unfolded during a hearing Friday where former Nashville Police Officer Andrew Delke agreed to a plea deal to reduce his charges for the killing of Daniel Hambrick in 2018.
Judge Monte Watkins accepted a plea deal made between the office of the Nashville District Attorney General Glenn Funk and Delke. In exchange for a guilty plea, the deal reduced the charge of first-degree murder to voluntary manslaughter. As a result of the lesser charge the officer will only serve a maximum of three years for the murder of Hambrick.
Joy Kimbrough, an attorney for the Hambrick family, read Vickie Hambrick’s (Daniel’s mother) victim statement prior to the emotional outburst.
“I am against this so-called plea deal. I am against the way the state and the defense join hands to protect this racist biased anti-black criminal system. My son was murdered on video by Nashville police. My son has a right, he has a right to a public jury trial. I want citizens of this community to render a judgment.”
After hearing that Delke’s charges were reduced, Hambrick delivered a heart wrenching victim impact statement to Delke, Judge Watkins and Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore.
“I can’t believe this, judge. I can’t believe this, I’ve been going through this for three years,” she said. “What if the table was turned?” she asked the judge. “Just look at the tape,” she added in reference to footage that shows Delke chase down and shoot Hambrick as he ran away.
“What if it was your child? It’d be a different story!”
Hambrick then turned her attention toward Delke. “They better take you out of here in cuffs because I’m going to come over there and smack the sh-t out of you. Oh yes I am,” Vickie Hambrick shouted toward Delke. “I hate you … you better watch your back in jail, motherf-cker. I hate you. [Assistant District Attorney] Roger [Moore], I hate you too. You told me a g-ddamn, lie and I hate you.”
The hearing turned chaotic when the grieving mother tried to advance towards Delke, Funk and other prosecutors. Others in the courtroom physically held her back while Delke was quickly escorted out of the courtroom.
Hambrick met with the District Attorney the afternoon before this hearing, expecting to discuss strategies for the case before it was set to go to trial. Instead, she was told that he made a closed-door deal with Delke and his attorneys. The plea deal was reached just days before Delke was set to go to trial.
Despite the fact that Hambrick’s family was strongly opposed to the deal, the District Attorney pointed to what he thought was the significance of the guilty plea.
“The reality is tonight for the first time ever a Nashville officer is going to bed in jail for killing a Black man,” he told The Tennessean. “Nashville officers now know they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Funk explained that he made this decision because he “was not willing to risk not having a felony conviction, not having him off the force, not having him incarcerated, not having him be able to make a guilty plea where he conceded that he did, in fact, use deadly force that was not reasonably necessary.”
Under Tennessee law the district attorney’s office must notify the family of the plea deal, however the law does not require that the family agree.
The Murder of Daniel Hambrick
On July 26, 2018, Delke, a new member of the Metro Police Juvenile Task Force, was patrolling in search of stolen vehicles when he saw a white Chevrolet Impala driving erratically.
A criminal affidavit says Delke “became suspicious” when the Impala stopped and conceded the right of way by not pulling out in front of his patrol vehicle. Delke followed the vehicle in his unmarked police vehicle.
According to the affidavit, Delke continued to follow the Impals even after he learned the vehicle was not stolen. “He continued to follow to see if he could develop a reason to stop the Impala,” court documents read. Delke’s plan was to follow the car until it did something illegal so he could pull it over.
Delke attempted to pull the car over, turned his blue lights on as the car entered I-65 South, but the car reportedly did not stop. Delke did not engage in a chase, but instead turned off his lights and followed from a distance, the affidavit said.
At some point, Delke lost sight of the Impala and continued driving through the neighborhood looking for the vehicle. He “mistook a different white four door sedan for his target vehicle” in an apartment parking lot. When the officer pulled into the lot, Daniel Hambrick started to run, the affidavit said.
Delke gave chase on foot, yelling to Hambrick to stop. Officials say Delke did not know the man he was running after but believed he may have been connected to the Impala he had been following. Delke also said he saw Hambrick with a gun.
The criminal affidavit states that Delke stopped, assumed a firing position, and aimed his service weapon before firing four shots at Hambrick as he ran away. One hit Hambrick in the center of his back and lodged in his spine. Another went through Hambrick’s left torso from back to front. The third bullet made its way through the back of Hambrick’s head into the front of his skull. And the last, struck a nearby building.
Daniel Hambrick was 25-years-old when he was killed by Delke.
The shooting was captured by a nearby surveillance camera.
The Plea Deal
The terms of the plea deal say Delke will serve three years in prison and waive the right to appeal the case or seek parole. Delke avoided the possible life sentence he faced had he been found guilty of the original charge of first-degree murder.
Delke’s defense team said he will likely serve a year and a half in jail with standard credits.
Delke is the first Nashville police officer to be charged with murder for an on-duty shooting. And he’s only the second to face criminal charges for killing someone.