Former Nashville officer pleads guilty to manslaughter; family explosion agreement


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The mother of a black man gunned down by a former white Nashville officer sobbed, screamed and knocked over a courtroom on Friday as she begged a judge not to agree to a plea deal she said she said, was concluded in secret without his knowledge, a chaotic scene that briefly delayed the hearing before the judge accepted the deal.

Former officer Andrew Delke has pleaded guilty to manslaughter over the death of Daniel Hambrick, 25, in 2018 under a deal with prosecutors.

Delke will serve a three-year prison sentence. As part of the deal, he will not pursue parole or appeal the case. However, Delke’s defense team said he would likely serve a year and a half in prison on standard credits.

The audience turned volatile when Hambrick’s mother Vickie made a lengthy statement as family members and others clapped and knocked on the door in support.

“I hate you,” Vickie Hambrick yelled over and over, while yelling curses, pointing some at Delke and the prosecutors.

In a particularly chaotic moment, the mother knocked over the desk and a computer screen and family members rushed to her side. Delke and Judge Monte Watkins were briefly led out of the courtroom.

Delke was set to stand trial on a first degree murder charge, but on Thursday his lawyer announced he had agreed to plead guilty to intentional homicide.

“I hope this case can positively contribute to the much needed discussion of how police officers are trained and how we as a community want police to interact with citizens. I am deeply sorry for the harm. that my actions caused, ”Delke said shortly after entering. his plea, his voice sometimes broke.

A group of about two dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse, chanting “no racist police” to show their opposition to Delke’s plea deal. Others wore shirts indicating that police officers and whites were subject to lighter penalties for committing the same crimes as blacks and browns.

Hambrick’s family said they had not been contacted or consulted and were not aware of the plea deal until it was concluded.

“I have contempt for this system. I have contempt for this plea. I have contempt for (The Brotherhood of the Police). And I have a special contempt for Andrew Delke. May you all rot in hell, “said lawyer Joy Kimbrough, who read Vickie Hambrick’s statement as she cried behind her.

District Attorney Glenn Funk later told reporters he informed Hambrick’s family of the deal on Wednesday and had been in contact with them for three years. He said he knew Vickie Hambrick wanted Delke convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, and that he had to decide what was in the best interests of the state.

He said there was a “very large percentage” that the case would have ended in a suspended jury, which he said would have meant that the emotion seen in the courtroom on Friday “would have multiplied per 100 “. Funk also called “significant progress” that “tonight will be the first night that Nashville has a police officer in jail for shooting a black man on duty.”

“I was not prepared to risk not having a felony conviction, not removing him from the police force, not putting him in jail, not allowing him to plead guilty when he conceded that he had in fact used deadly force that was not reasonably necessary, ”Funk said.

Delke, 27, tendered his resignation on Thursday. He had been disarmed, meaning he had to surrender his weapon, but was able to work in an office while getting paid.

After the covid-19 delays and pre-trial back-and-forth, jury selection was due to begin next week. The trial was going to focus on a handgun Hambrick claimed Delke claimed was pointed at him for a while, which prosecutors dispute and video footage does not show.

Prosecutors focused on the surveillance footage that captured the shooting, in which Delke stops chasing and shoots the fleeing man. Defense attorneys claimed there was a 36-foot blind spot and a lot could have happened there. There were dozens of cameras and defense attorneys claimed it was possible that other footage of this blind spot was captured, but was not examined by investigators before it was automatically overwritten on the system.

The month after the shooting, Funk publicly released surveillance footage of the shooting, sparking more attention and an uproar. Delke was charged in September 2018, and the shooting sparked enough backlash that voters set up a community watch board for the Nashville Police Department in November.

Since 2005, 143 sworn non-federal law enforcement officers with powers of arrest have been arrested for murder or manslaughter following a shooting while on duty in the United States, with only 45 convicted of a felony. resulting from the shooting on duty, according to a tally. by Bowling Green State University criminal justice professor Philip Stinson, before Delke’s plea. According to the findings, 45 other cases are still pending.

Lawyers for Delke argued that the officer took his training and Tennessee law in response to “an armed suspect who ignored repeated orders to drop his gun.” Funk argued that Delke had other alternatives, adding that the officer could have pulled over, taken cover and called for help.

Nashville Metro Council has approved a $ 2.25 million settlement to resolve a lawsuit brought by Hambrick’s family.

For Vickie Hambrick, who is legally blind, the loss of her only child will haunt her forever.

“My son was my eyes,” Kimbrough said, reading Vickie Hambrick’s statement. “Since he left, things haven’t been the same and they never will be.”

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