Daniel Hambrick's family says homicide charges brought last week against Metro Nashville Officer Andrew Delke, who fatally shot Hambrick, are a “good first step.”
They’re also calling for the officer’s conviction and for the Metro Nashville Police Department’s top leader to step down.
Delke was arrested Thursday for the killing of Hambrick on July 26 during a foot pursuit. It was the first time in the city’s history a Metro police officer has faced a homicide charge for on-duty actions, officials say.
The case has energized a push to create a community oversight board to review police. It’s also raised questions about Metro Nashville Police tactics, especially the practice of initiating traffic stops.
“All this has to do with is making a mistake, pulling over somebody that was innocent, and made the wrong decision and took somebody’s life,” cousin Sameka Hambrick says. “We just want justice served for Mr. Delke’s irresponsible decision that he made.”
At the time of the shooting, Delke had been assigned to a new Juvenile Crimes Task Force, and his objective was to find stolen vehicles when he came across a white Chevrolet Impala in North Nashville, according to an affidavit released last week. That set in motion a chain of events that ended with Delke running into Hambrick in the parking lot of the John Henry Hale Homes.
But the arrest affidavit for Delke says the officer had already determined the Impala was not stolen, that Delke mixed up that car with another one and that Delke couldn't have known for sure that Hambrick was associated with either vehicle.
Video camera evidence also shows Hambrick was fleeing Delke when the officer shot at him four times, hitting him three times from behind.
“We were encouraged by the arrest of the officer, who clearly killed him on video. We had been a little restless. We didn’t understand what was taking so long,” said Joy Kimborough, the family’s attorney. “But no one is celebrating.”
Delke’s defense attorney, David Raybin, said Thursday his client was following the law and his training during the incident. Raybin also noted prosecutors don’t dispute that Hambrick was holding a gun before he was killed and that Delke gave repeated verbal demands to drop the weapon or he would fire.
“Most people run from danger. Police officers run toward danger. Officer Delke was protecting himself, his backup officers who were on the way, and the public,” said Raybin, who added that Delke will plead not guilty. He plans to take the case to trial.
Delke has been released on a $25,000 bond. Members of the Hambrick family say they don’t object to his being free while he awaits trial.
“The bond is not important at this time. The biggest thing we got was him being charged,” said cousin Sameka Hambrick. “We got something that hasn’t happened in the community ever. … We just want justice, so that this won’t continue to happen to someone else in the community at a later time.”
Following the charge, Hambrick family members also say they will continue to “keep fighting.” They plan to stand behind a November ballot vote for the creation of a citizen oversight board, a petition for which was filed back in August.
The referendum would allow development of an 11-member panel with authority to investigate alleged instances of police misconduct. Raybin told The Tennessean the city’s police union would campaign against the initiative. Meanwhile, activist groups Community Oversight Now, Black Lives Matter Nashville and others say they will continue to push for the board’s creation.
Many of those groups have also called for the resignation of Police Chief Steve Anderson. They point to last year’s shooting of Jocques Clemmons following a traffic stop and reports like the “Driving While Black” study that suggested bias in traffic stops as evidence of systemic bias.
“One hundred percent, he needs to go,” says Kimbrough. “Too much has happened on his watch.”