In Wake Of Police Shooting Video, Criticism Of Nashville's Mayor And Police Chief | Nashville Public Radio

In Wake Of Police Shooting Video, Criticism Of Nashville's Mayor And Police Chief

Aug 8, 2018

Nashville Mayor David Briley’s response to the shooting of Daniel Hambrick and Wednesday's release of videos that show him fleeing police drew criticisms from several groups, including those who are pushing for a ballot measure to create a community oversight board that would review such incidents.

Some Metro council members and community organizers are also questioning the leadership of the Metro Nashville Police Department.

At a hastily called gathering inside Jefferson Street Missionary Baptist Church, some called for the resignation of Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson, and they vowed to talk again with Briley about forming an oversight board.

They also bristled at the mayor’s request for patience, linking it to calls for caution during the Civil Rights Movement.

“We are really disappointed in him,” said D.J. Hudson, a community organizer with Southerners On New Ground and Black Lives Matter. “We’ve been watching him wondering, you know, just like the old Civil Rights song says, ‘Whose side are you on?’”

Hudson also questions the mayor's intention to involve of The Policing Project, a national organization that tries to improve police-community relations, calling it an unnecessary intervention.

“We don’t need people from New York City or anywhere else to come to Nashville and tell people who are from Nashville how to change Nashville,” Hudson said. “We have been constructing a pathway out of this issue, and we are being ignored.”

Arnold Hayes with Community Oversight Now, which is asking the city to create a police oversight board, said the situation raises questions about how police should react to people running away.

"I’m not trying to say guilty or innocent, because I don't know all the details," he said. "But when you have an environment that’s toxic, you need to work to make it less toxic."

The Metro Nashville Police Department declined to comment on criticism from the community, saying in a statement: "The TBI’s investigation into the shooting is still in progress. The MNPD is awaiting the completion of the investigation and its findings."

Metro Council Members Also Doubt Leadership

Councilwoman Sheri Weiner, who is the acting vice mayor, issued a statement Wednesday that she is seriously considering the need for new leadership at the police department. She cited “grave concerns raised by numerous people” about Anderson.

Weiner described the new video as sad and inconclusive. She praised the city’s police officers and recognized “the fear many in our community feel.”

The Minority Caucus of the Metro Council also decried the fatal shooting, saying that Hambrick was "not a threat." Those council members demanded that Delke be placed on unpaid leave.

Meanwhile, At-Large Councilman Bob Mendes raised questions about local racial discrimination, unconscious bias in policing and the police department’s approach on crime intervention.

“This video suggests that MNPD’s active interdiction policies led to a traffic stop for ‘erratic driving’ which in turn led to a fatal shooting in the back,” Mendes wrote.

He asked for an immediate examination of whether Metro police interdiction policies — such as Operation Safer Streets, which adds officers in high-crime areas — have a racially discriminatory impact. 

“There are strong historical and current reasons to want to ask whether there is a racial bias either in setting policing strategies in Nashville, or in the impact those policies have,” Mendes said.