NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Former Metro Police officer Andrew Delke has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in the 2018 shooting of Daniel Hambrick.
He was sentenced to three years in jail, however, his lawyer says he will likely serve about 18 months.
The long-awaited trial was supposed to start in just a little more than a week, but that all changed on Thursday when Delke's legal team and District Attorney Glenn Funk agreed to a plea deal for a lesser charge. In 2018, Delke was charged with first-degree murder in Hambrick's death. The charge would have come with the potential of facing life in prison.
He was booked into the Downtown Detention Center on Friday morning and placed on precautionary observation, which the Davidson County Sheriff's Office says is common in these cases. Once his observation ends, he will be assigned to the DDC Restrictive Housing Unit where he will be housed alone in a 16-foot by 8-foot cell for 22 hours a day and go to recreation alone.
A plea hearing was held on Friday morning but was abruptly cut short after Hambrick’s mother Vickie spoke, at times yelling and cursing at both the district attorney and Delke.
Warning: Graphic language
During the hearing, statements from Delke and the Hambrick family were read to the judge.
"I am pleading guilty today because I recognize that my use of deadly force was not reasonably necessary under all the circumstances. I recognize that what happened on July 26, 2018, was tragic. Ms. Hambrick lost her son that day, and I am responsible for her loss. These are facts that I will have to live with for the rest of my life. No mother should have to experience the loss of their child and not a day has gone by that I have not thought about my actions. I also recognize that my actions impacted the community and the police department. I hope this case can contribute positively to the much-needed discussion about how police officers are trained and how we as a community of police officers interact with citizens. I am deeply sorry for the harm my actions caused and I hope that Mr. Hambrick’s family will gain some comfort from my acceptance of this possibility and my guilty plea today."
Hambrick Family Statement
Attorney Joy Kimbrough read a statement on behalf of Vicky Hambrick and the Hambrick family.
"My name is Vickie Hambrick. I am legally blind and I have asked my attorney Joy Kimbrough to read this statement on my behalf.
On June 1, 1993, I gave birth to Daniel Edward Hambrick. He was my only child and the love of my life. Daniel recognized at an early age that I had a disability. But he was never ashamed of me or embarrassed by that. He loved me unconditionally and constantly said that he would always take care of me. My son was my eyes. Since he’s been gone, things have not been the same and they never will. There is not one hour that goes by that I do not think of Daniel. Even though I have friends and family, there is a void in me that cannot be filled. Nothing and no one compares to my precious son. I am angry, mad and disgusted and I pray that no other mother has to endure what I’ve endured these last few years.
I am against this so-called plea deal. I am against the way the state and the defense joined hands to protect this racist, biased, anti-black, criminal system.
My son was murdered on video by Nashville police. My son has a right, he has a right, to a public jury trial. I want citizens of this community to render a judgment. I don’t want a backroom bargain where the current DA, the former DA and the ex-coworker David Raybin emerged from some country golf club course and tell me that my son’s life is worth three years and that I’m lucky to get that.
We all know if Daniel had executed Delke by shooting him in the back of his head and his back and in his buttocks as he ran away he would be riding on death row waiting on the electric chair.
Delke lied about Daniel pointing a gun at him. His terroristic hate group, the FOP, which masquerades as a labor union, immediately went on the attack and tried to publicly assassinate my son’s character with a bunch of lies and innuendo.
I’ve gone through so much during these last three years as I’ve patiently, patiently, waited for the day Andrew Delke would face a jury for gunning down my son.
Initially, Night Court Commissioner Evan Harris refused to sign a warrant for the arrest of the man who murdered my son. Later, an elected judge decided a $25,000 bond was sufficient enough for a first-degree murder indictment.
The Metro Nashville Police Department never accepted any accountability. In fact, they allowed a murder defendant to keep his job the entire time, funded by taxpayers until he resigned yesterday on his own terms.
In an unprecedented move, the former district attorney testified for the defendant and against the people. Also, other former high-ranking assistant DAs worked behind the scene to help prepare the defendant for trial against the people.
In the end, the sitting DA lost his nerve.
Instead of allowing the jury to render a judgment at a public trial, he settled for political expediency and forced the three-year plea down my throat. I have contempt for this system. I have contempt for this plea. I have contempt for the FOP and I have a special contempt for Andrew Delke. May you all rot in hell."
Watch the first part of the hearing before court took recess in the video player below:
Judge Watkins accepted Delke's plea in the video player below:
Reaction To Plea Deal
Some are frustrated to learn Delke will not getting life in prison for the death of Daniel Hambrick. On Friday morning, protesters gathered outside the A.A. Birch Building ahead of Delke's hearing to express frustration with the plea deal.
A group of activists also gathered outside Funk's home on Thursday evening to protest the plea deal. In a statement to reporters, Funk said he spoke with the family after he accepted the plea agreement. This has become a point of contention for supporters of the Hambrick family. Protesters have told NewsChannel 5 they feel Funk should have spoken and consulted with the Hambrick family before making that decision.
Community leaders have also released statements in response to the plea.
Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake:
"Andrew Delke resigned from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department on Thursday, July 1. Today’s guilty plea ends three years of waiting by the Hambrick Family, the Delke family, our police department and Nashville as a whole. It has been a difficult three years for many, and I again express condolences to the relatives of Daniel Hambrick over his loss. It is my hope that with today’s court action, we can all continue to move forward, knowing that we cannot undo the events of July 26, 2018. My clear priorities continue to be precision policing, de-escalation and strengthening community partnerships. Our department has and continues to evolve to best serve all of Nashville."
Senator Brenda Gilmore (D-Nashville):
"Nashville is at a crossroad. This is our city’s first-ever guilty plea for a police officer who used illegal and deadly force against a Nashvillian who was born and raised in this city. It is hard to grapple with the fact that this three-year sentence is justice.
In the wake of George Floyd, a sad but painful truth was revealed: Far too many Black males are victims of excessive use of deadly force by police.
We have a road ahead of us. We, as Nashvillians, must determine if it will be long or short.
This 3-year sentence communicates that Daniel Hambrick’s life was not valued by the legal system. However, as your Tennessee State Senator, I know otherwise.
To his mother and father, family and friends who are experiencing great grief during this time my prayers are with you. We will continue on our road to justice to end police brutality."
Jill Fitcheard, executive director of the Metro Nashville Community Oversight Board:
"As the Executive Director of the Community Oversight Board - which was created following the murder of Daniel Hambrick, I stand with the Nashville community in their heartbreak of the egregious miscarriage of justice regarding his life and death. The Hambrick family deserved to have their input, just as every other victim in a criminal case. Even at the end, Daniel Hambrick’s family once again had to suffer through a system that continually disavows, disenfranchise and disengages from the feelings of Black people. We witnessed a mother’s heartache and a cry that will forever be etched in our memory. We saw a family’s trauma spill over from a three-year wait for justice that will never bring them closure. There are two justice systems at play - one for those who have political will behind them and another for those who have less power and just want decency, fairness, justice and equality.
Justice is about righting a wrong. What we witnessed today was not justice, it was not equality, it was not fairness, it was not wholeness. It was what it was intended to do - protect the two-tiered justice system from holding itself accountable.
Accountability is the cornerstone of my work for the COB. I will continue to be a fierce advocate for transforming the criminal legal system so that harms experienced by Nashville community members can be addressed fairly and equitably. Daniel Hambrick’s family deserved their day in court. They deserved to go through the process and have a jury of their peers determine the outcome. That did not happen and closure for them is lost."
Stand Up Nashville Executive Director Odessa Kelly:
Daniel Hambrick’s mother should not have to beg a judge for justice, and no victim should have to scream through tears to stop a plea deal nobody asked her about,” Kelly said. “This isn’t justice. Our system is broken.
“We must end qualified immunity for police officers and accept no compromise. Until we do that, grieving families will continue to be denied justice. Congress must pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act with the end to qualified immunity intact.
“The next step is to pass The People’s Response Act, legislation before Congress that would urgently create nonviolent, trained emergency health responders for situations that don’t require an officer with a gun. Until we put care and justice before punishment and policing, these tragedies will continue to happen.