NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A motions hearing wrapped up after three days for Andrew Delke, the decommissioned Metro police officer charged with murder in the 2018 killing of Daniel Hambrick.
Judge Monte Watkins will ultimately decide what evidence can be used in the trial, which begins next month. On the final day of hearings, surveillance video was once again the main focus for much of the morning. Following a break for lunch, the focus changed to who would be taking the stand. Delke’s attorney, David Raybin, called witnesses to the stand who testified to the number of cameras that were not operating at the time of the shooting in late July 2018.
Of the 84 cameras in the area of John Henry Hale apartments, there were 17 that we know of that were not working. Experts determined that four of those cameras may have been too far away to be relevant to the case, leaving behind 13 cameras still not functioning. John Morris is an expert in video acquisition and digital forensics. He explained how if we had certain cameras available, we may have been able to know exactly how far away Delke was from Hambrick when he fired the fatal shots. They call it the "voided area" because we lose several key seconds before the shooting.
It’s still not clear why only some video was provided at the time from MDHA, leaving a gap in the timeline which was still being argued to this day. A crime scene expert testified that Hambrick had injuries to the right arm and hand consistent with the damage we saw on the gun he was carrying. He said he used diagrams and the limited video we have to show Delke was at least 49 feet from Hambrick during the shooting.
At one point, Hambrick’s family walked out of the courtroom having just seen the final images of his life but later returned. This was around the time Raybin announced another motion to have the images of Hambrick limited to a reasonable size to not make Hambrick appear as the victim. Raybin contended that if the state was going to enlarge photos of Hambrick, he would be entitled to offer rebuttal photos that show Hambrick in a less than favorable light. Judge Watkins said he would not allow any photographs depicting Hambrick's past and any criminal history he may have been involved in. Although Watkins mentioned that the door is still open for that evidence to make it to trial, depending on future circumstances.
Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore called it an attempt by the defense to cast a negative light on Hambrick "as if this was a life not worth saving." Judge Watkins did rule on the motion to include character evidence against Hambrick and other associates seen in the video surveillance. Judge Watkins said he did not see why it would be relevant to the case.
Raybin later motioned for Judge Watkins to deny a witness he says was submitted by the state, at least 50 days beyond the deadline. The question expert is a use-of-force specialist who also testified in the trial of Derek Chauvin. He's the former Minneapolis Police officer who was convicted of killing George Floyd in 2020. Raybin said the state is trying to connect the two cases, even though they couldn't be further apart.
"Don't let them get away with this which is absolutely a stunt to try to convict him (Delke) based on actions of a different officer against a different person under completely different circumstances." Raybin said. He went on to say, "Daniel Hambrick is no George Floyd and Andrew Delke is no Derek Chauvin."
Moore told judge Watkins that while they did become aware of the expert through the Chauvin trial, there would be no mention of George Floyd in this hearing. Moore said the only reason it took so long to retain this expert is that they first had to wait for a report to know if this expert could offer any context. Then came the matter of paying the approximately $30,000 to retain the expert's services which had to be paid in advance. Both the state and the defense have said they want to put forth experts on the use of force.
"We believe strongly that they should be admitted if any expert is admitted," Moore said.
Raybin's last motion was to throw out the video evidence which he called incomplete because of the voided area. While the state believes the voided area is only a matter of a few feet and a couple of seconds, Raybin said even that little can make all the difference. Moore warned that suppression of the video could amount to a dismissal of the case.
The defense also wants Delke to be referred to as Officer Delke. They said he hasn’t been suspended, only decommissioned, so he is still an officer and should be referred to as such. Delke was not wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting, and since then, Metro Police said they’ve rolled out more cameras to officers. At the moment, they have 1,023 active employees equipped with body cameras and another 556 cars equipped with the cameras. Delke's trial is set to start on July 12 after it was pushed back because of the pandemic. A request for a change of venue has been denied twice. Right now, Delke remains out on bond.