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'He did everything he could.' Chief Drake defends his officer after fatal shootout

Nika Holbert's mother: 'This should have never happened.'
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Posted at 2:51 PM, Mar 13, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Saturday morning, Metro Police Chief John Drake took questions from reporters, following a fatal shootout involving one of his officers.

Nika Holbert died from her injuries Friday, after Holbert and Officer Josh Baker exchanged gun fire in a Dollar General parking lot on Brick Church Pike.

"I’ve reviewed the body cam footage, he appeared to do everything he could to try to de-escalate the situation, including the use of taser, including trying not to use his firearm," said Chief Drake.

The morning of the shooting, Officer Baker pulled over a black Chevy Camaro after running the plates through their system and seeing that the owner of the car, Demond Buchanan, had six outstanding drug warrants. Baker quickly realized the owner wasn't behind the wheel.

Instead, it was Nika Holbert. Body camera footage released by MNPD showed Officer Baker found drugs in the car, radioed for backup and attempted to take Holbert into custody. That's when everything escalated.

"Here do me a favor and turn around," said Baker.

"No don’t put me in handcuffs I haven’t done anything wrong," replied Holbert as she ran away from the officer.

The video shows Baker warned Holbert that she was about to be tazed. When she retreats back into the car, he deploys the taser. Then you can see Holbert reach for something with her right hand. Baker believes it's a gun. "Ma’am, put the gun down, put the gun down," Baker screamed.

Holbert and the officer then exchange gunfire. Metro Police say Baker was shot once, Holbert was shot twice. She then attempted to get away, only to drive the Camaro into a ditch. Holbert later died from her injuries.

"There’s nothing else he could have done better other than maybe leave the scene and let her go away, and obviously, he couldn’t do that," surmised Chief John Drake.

Drake says Baker couldn't let her go, because he found her to be in possession of drugs and because she was driving without a Tennessee's drivers license.

Nika's Mother Responds

Nika Holbert's mother thinks it should never have gotten to this point. She called NewsChannel 5 wanting to share what she believes is her daughter's perspective on this story. She has asked us not to use her name in the interest of her own safety.

"There’s a thousand scenarios that could have happened to where both of them could have walked away. My daughter should be alive today," said Holbert's mother.

Nika's mother tells NewsChannel 5, she does not know the owner of the car her daughter was driving. "If I did, I would have him arrested already - yesterday. I don’t know that guy," she added.

She also said she wasn't surprised that Nika pulled out a handgun, saying she was quite obviously scared. “He was trying to kill her with that taser and she was trying to protect herself," she said.

Holbert's mother is now in the process of hiring an attorney and is considering her legal options.

Latest on Officer Baker's Condition

Chief John Drake visited a wounded Officer Josh Baker Saturday morning in his hospital room at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "He was in a little bit of pain still, understandably. His stomach had been -- he had a procedure done so he was a little groggy still," said Drake.

The 14 year veteran of the force could be released in the coming days.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is still looking into the case, but it will ultimately be up to District Attorney General Glenn Funk, if any further legal action will be taken.

Here's the full news conference with Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake: