Civil settlement in Andrew Delke case hints at possible defense

Why settle when Delke pleaded not guilty?
Posted at 1:13 PM, Mar 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-16 10:23:00-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashville wants to pay $2.25 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit but admits no wrongdoing. So, why settle?

Remember, Andrew Delke, a decommissioned Metro Nashville police officer, is still charged with the murder of Daniel Hambrick. The trial is set for July. But there is a reason for this settlement before the criminal trial, and it hints at Delke's likely defense.

Typically, civil lawsuits are shelved until after a criminal trial but not in this case.

A fair question: why settle for millions when accused officer Andrew Delke has pleaded not guilty?

This is a controversial case. Delke -- a white Metro officer -- is accused of shooting Daniel Hambrick -- a Black man -- in the back. The incident sparked community outrage and protests.

Daniel Hambrick: Autopsy Results Released
Delke shot Daniel Hambrick during a foot chase back in 2018.

"Anytime you settle something this polarizing, you do get a benefit for the city," says NewsChannel 5's legal analyst Nick Leonardo.

But, there's more to it than just that. The $2.5 million settlement comes fully three months before Delke is set to stand trial for murder.

Nashville may pay the Hambrick family -- and neither the city nor Delke admit to any wrongdoing, but, "There's got to be some other exposure that Metro knows that they have in this case," said Leonardo.

Remember, Delke shot and killed Hambrick -- hitting him three times from behind -- during a foot chase in 2018. It was all caught on security video, which will be the main evidence at trial.

Police say Hambrick was carrying a gun, and Delke fired because he felt Hambrick was an imminent threat.

Prosecutors have charged Delke with first-degree murder.

Leonardo says this civil settlement coming before the criminal trial gives a hint to part of Delke's likely defense, "We're talking about more of Metro's liability -- was there negligent training... was there failure to follow protocols?"

Who knows what exactly will come out at trial?

But, it very likely Delke's attorneys will say he only acted according to the way he was trained.

The jury then will be left to decide if Delke's training was lacking and if that is what led to the fatal shooting.

We may get a look at this defense strategy in the George Floyd trial when it begins soon in Minneapolis. Jury selection has been was delayed, but the city earlier did settle a civil lawsuit with the Floyd family for $3 million. Officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and may challenge his training at trial.

Related story: Metro files resolution to settle with Daniel Hambrick's family on civil claims