During a Friday hearing where former Nashville Police Officer Andrew Delke was sentenced to three years in prison under a plea deal, Vickie Hambrick, the mother of the man Delke killed, offered no forgiveness to the ex-officer.
Daniel Hambrick, 25, was fatally shot by Delke as he fled on foot from an attempted traffic stop in North Nashville in July 2018. Delke was the first Nashville officer to be charged with murder in an on-duty shooting, and the plea deal was reached just days before he was set to go to trial. Hambrick’s family strongly opposed the deal under which Delke pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
During the Friday hearing before Judge Monte Watkins, Vickie Hambrick delivered an emotional victim impact statement.
“I can’t believe this, judge. I can’t believe this, I’ve been going through this for three years,” she said. “What if the table was turned?” she asked the judge. “Just look at the tape,” she added in reference to footage that shows Delke chase down and shoot Hambrick as he ran away.
“What if it was your child? It’d be a different story!”
Hambrick then turned her attention toward Delke. “They better take you out of here in cuffs because I’m going to come over there and smack the sh-t out of you. Oh yes I am,” Vickie Hambrick shouted toward Delke. “I hate you … you better watch your back in jail, motherf-cker. I hate you. [Assistant District Attorney] Roger [Moore], I hate you too. You told me a g-ddamn, lie and I hate you.”
Judge Watkins attempted to interrupt, saying, “OK, I think that’s enough,” when the grieving mother began to try to physically advance toward Delke, District Attorney Glenn Funk, and prosecutors. Others in the courtroom held her back as Delke was quickly escorted from the room along with Watkins.
When the hearing resumed, Hambrick had been escorted by supporters from the courtroom. Delke then pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Despite the fact that Hambrick’s family was enraged by the outcome of the case, District Attorney Funk pointed to the significance of the guilty plea.
“The reality is tonight for the first time ever a Nashville officer is going to bed in jail for killing a Black man,” he told The Tennessean. “Nashville officers now know they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Delke also made a statement in the courtroom. “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,” he said. “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, and no mother should have to experience the loss of a child, and not a day has gone by that I have not thought about my actions.”
Tennessee law required the district attorney’s office to notify the family of the plea deal but does not require that the family agree.
Joy Kimbrough, an attorney for the Hambrick family, described Vickie Hambrick’s reaction upon learning of the plea deal. “She’s very upset — it’s like losing Daniel all over again,” she said.
On July 26, 2018, Delke was patrolling in search of stolen vehicles when he saw a white Chevrolet Impala driving erratically. The vehicle fled and Delke chased the car in an unmarked vehicle.
Officers lost sight of the car but then saw a group of men standing near a white sedan in the parking lot of an apartment complex. When Hambrick saw Delke, he ran. Surveillance footage shows Hambrick running away as Delke chases him, stops, aims his weapon, and fires. Hambrick was struck three times in the back and the back of the head. Delke claimed he fired in self-defense, and a gun was found near Hambrick’s body although footage does not show him aiming it.
Delke, originally charged with first-degree murder, is likely to serve 18 months in jail with no probation or parole required. He was taken into custody at the Davidson County Detention Center.
Kimbrough read Vickie Hambrick’s prepared victim statement prior to the emotional outburst.
“I am against this so-called plea deal. I am against the way the state and the defense join 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.”