A grand jury indicted Metro Nashville Police Department Officer Andrew Delke on a charge of first-degree murder in the shooting of Daniel Hambrick.
District Attorney Glenn Funk’s office announced the decision Friday, Nashville Public Radio (WPLN) said.
The case will be tried in the Criminal Court of Davidson County, NewsChannel 5 said. Delke, who is out on bond, will plead not guilty. Judge Melissa Blackburn decided at the preliminary hearing two weeks ago there was probable cause to bound the case over to the grand jury.
This is the first time an on-duty Nashville police officer has been indicted for a fatal shooting, WPLN said, quoting a police spokesperson.
NewsChannel 5 said Delke has been decommissioned but remains on administrative assignment. Arraignment is expected in seven to 10 days.
The shooting has been fraught with racial undertones.
WTN radio’s Dan Mandis tried to hold a reasoned debate last August with Joy Kimbrough, the attorney representing the Hambrick family, The Tennessee Star reported at the time.
Kimbrough used what Mandis called “inflammatory language” repeatedly even as he said he wanted to give her and the victim’s family a forum free of inflammatory language. She denied Black Lives Matter has called for the murder of officers.
Mandis challenged Kimbrough for her repeated use of the word “execution” in describing the shooting and reminded her, a lawyer, it is a legal word. He defined execution as the state-sanctioned killing of someone. Hambrick was running from police with a gun, he said.
James Smallwood, president of the Andrew Jackson Lodge No. 5 Fraternal Order of Police, issued a statement decrying the “piecemeal” release of evidence such as the video, which he said was of low resolution and grainy, The Star reported.
The case was also a factor in the formation of the controversial police oversight board in Nashville. One backer, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, called for the firing of Police Chief Steve Anderson.
Dr. Carol M. Swain wrote a detailed analysis in The Star of the preliminary hearing and condemned Funk for comparing Delke’s defense to arguments used at the Nuremburg Nazi trials. Swain’s analysis also delved into the politics of trying a white police officer for the shooting of a black man who had a gun and ignored police orders:
Hambrick didn’t drop the gun, nor did he follow any other of Delke’s police orders. Video cameras show most but not all of the encounter between the two men. What is clear is that Hambrick was running away from Delke with a weapon in his hands. The cameras show Delke stop, aim, and shoot four bullets, striking Hambrick three times in the back.
Delke says he fired because he feared for his life and the safety of others. According to this theory, the armed suspect could turn in a second and fire at the officer or accidentally shoot bystanders. The officer claimed the suspect looked back at him briefly, but this wasn’t captured on videotape—there are a few seconds where the suspect is out of view. Delke’s defense about fearing for his life is one that most police officers give when they make the split-second decision to fire their weapon.
Following police training on how to respond to an armed suspect is hardly similar to the heinous crimes that Nazis perpetrated against the Jews. To say otherwise is utter nonsense. The issue seems to be the police training, which is undergoing review in many parts of the country.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.