NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Billed as one of the most anticipated trials in recent Nashville history, former Metro Nashville Police officer Andrew Delke accepted a highly controversial plea deal in the shooting death of Daniel Hambrick.
All eyes in Nashville were on the Justice A.A. Birch building on July 2. It was a trial three years in the making, but there was no jury. Ultimately there would be no trial. Andrew Delke, a white man, appeared to accept his sentence for shooting and killing Daniel Hambrick, a Black man, in 2018.
“I recognize that what happened in July 2018 was tragic. Ms. Hambrick lost her son that day and I am responsible for the loss,” Delke said.
It was the first many had heard from Delke, but his name was hard to forget as was the video of Delke chasing Hambrick through Nashville. Delke can be seen squaring up and shooting Hambrick dead as he ran away.
Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk said taking Delke to trial would have been a gamble. Defense attorneys had already prepared to argue that Hambrick had a gun in his hand during the foot chase.
“The reality is that would have made it a much more difficult case to get 12 jurors to unanimously believe that this was a murder case,” Funk said.
The news broke on the week that trial was set to begin. Delke accepted a plea deal from the DA’s office, that turned a first-degree murder charge into manslaughter. Family attorney Joy Kimbrough begged Judge Monte Watkins to reconsider since the Hambrick's mother had not been consulted before the deal was made.
“No one consulted her. Your honor, yesterday about 2:30 she found out for the first time that the deal had been done. That it was a foregone conclusion. That his fate had already been determined. They didn’t need a jury, because white men decided what was best for his community and Miss Hambrick. Judge, you have the power,” Kimbrough said.
Watching from inside the courtroom and even on live stream, you could feel the tension rising.
Now it was Vicki Hambrick’s time to speak.
“Because of you. I lost my son because of you. I don’t accept it. I hate you,” Hambrick told Delke.
Perhaps realizing her son may never get the justice he deserved, Hambrick’s tears boiled over. She lunged at Funk’s table, throwing papers as family held her back.
Outrage spilled outside the courtroom as people watched and others shouted, “Glenn Funk dropped the ball on this.”
Once the courtroom cleared, Funk told reporters that he felt the outrage was understandable. Delke was sentenced to three years in jail, but Funk called it a historic day no less.
He said it marked the first day a Nashville police officer would spend a night in jail for shooting and killing a black man on duty.
“I was not willing to risk not having a felony conviction, not having him off the force, and not having him incarcerated,” Funk said.
Delke’s sentence however could shrink by one month for every month he stays out of trouble. The math suggests that he could be out of jail and home with his family in December 2022.
As for the Hambrick family, they mourn their loss but continue to demand justice. Proving that a closed case doesn’t always mean closure and time makes no guarantees that we heal.
Delke will meet with the parole board in January, but his attorney has said they've already waived any chance at early parole.