Teen's attorney argues negligence in case of crash that killed MNPD officer

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Jul 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-18 23:51:26-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — New details in the deadly crash of Metro Nashville Police Officer John Anderson show that he was not wearing a seat belt during the time of the crash.

Officer Anderson was killed in a crash when his patrol car was hit by 17-year-old Jayona Brown.

Brown was avoiding a traffic stop by a separate officer when she crashed into Officer Anderson. Brown was charged with evading arrest, driving on a suspended license and vehicular homicide, aggravated assault and juvenile curfew violation.

According to MNPD officials, Officer Anderson was not wearing his seat belt when the crash happened - something the Metro Police manual states all employees must do.

The department's policy from the manual is as follows:

B. Seat Belts/Safety Seats/Restraints 1. All MNPD employees shall wear seat belts in accordance with current law. 2. All members shall wear properly adjusted safety restraints when operating or riding in a seat equipped with restraints, in any vehicle owned, leased or rented by this department while on- or off-duty, or in any privately owned vehicle while on-duty. The 824 of 1236 Police Vehicle Policy and Procedures 13.30 member driving such a vehicle shall ensure that all other occupants, including non-members, are also properly restrained.

Jayona Brown's attorney, Michie Gibson, also released surveillance video of the moments before the crash.

The video is from a surveillance camera on Woodland Street near Interstate Drive, where the crash happened on the 4th of July.

The camera is pointed east on Woodland Street. Officer John Anderson's car can be seen driving by with lights flashing just after 3 a.m. Jayona Brown's car is visible on the left, in the distance just before the crash.

According to Gibson, the video shows Officer Anderson speeding more than 10 miles an hour over the speed limit - also something the MNPD policy doesn't allow. Gibson says that proves Officer Anderson was negligent in the moments before the crash.

Gibson also says he thinks Brown was not acting reckless before the crash, but rather that she was acting only negligent when she ran through a flashing red light, which is a lesser crime.

However, NewsChannel 5 Nick Leonardo says the argument from Brown's attorney isn't strong. He says even if the video shows that Anderson was going faster than Metro police policy allows, which hasn't been proven, that would only come into play during a civil trial, not a criminal trial.

"The fact that an officer may have been speeding, the fact they weren't wearing a seat belt - does that trump the fact that an individual doesn't have a driver's license and shouldn't be driving," asked Leonardo. "Civil law is different from criminal law. And the fact that what I'm hearing is this is some sort of criminal defense, I don't think has anything to do with the cost of tea in china."

Jayona Brown has a detention hearing coming on August 22. The court will then decide whether Brown will have to stay in custody before a trial.