NASHVILLE (WSMV) - The case against a decommissioned Metro police officer will move forward to the grand jury.
Andrew Delke is charged with criminal homicide after authorities say he shot and killed Daniel Hambrick in the back while he was running from police in July 2018.
General Sessions Court Judge Melissa Blackburn made her decision after listening to two days of testimony during Delke's preliminary hearing.
"Mr. Hambrick began running. While this was suspicious and such behavior may have justified Delke in interviewing him, the mere act of fleeing is simply not a crime in the absence of other facts. It certainly did not justify the use of lethal force," said Blackburn in the court order.
Blackburn went on to say in the court order:
The Court is mindful of the fact that police work is stressful; that officers must make split second decisions and often act in a heroic manner. This does not justify the pursuit of a man suspected of no crime following the trailing of a car not apparently involved in any criminal activity. The decision to pursue Mr. Hambrick on foot seems from this proof to have been prompted by mere assumptions. While this behavior was sufficient to cause Mr. Delke to exercise caution for his own safety, it did not justify the foot pursuit and the killing of a man suspected of no crime known to the defendant at that time.
Click here to read the full text of the court order.
Joy Kimbrough, attorney for the Hambrick family, released this statement to News4:
The family and supporters of Daniel Hambrick 100% agree with Judge Melissa Blackburn and her rationale for binding this homicide over to the Grand Jury. We applaud her courage while recognizing that it cannot be easy when the FOP attempts to intimidate and influence the system.
Delke's defense attorney David Raybin stated in a news conference on Monday afternoon that his key defense was still that Hambrick turned to face Delke during the chase and that he had a gun.
Raybin emphasized the fact that the court finally saw evidence showing the gun in Hambrick's hand during the preliminary hearing and that according to state law, force is justifiable when a suspect is armed.
This statement is different from the law Blackburn cited in her court order, stating it is illegal to use deadly force against someone suspected of a misdemeanor.
Raybin also had some words for District Attorney Glenn Funk after Funk in his closing statement compared Delke's defense that he followed his police training to the defense used by Nazis.
"His defense is that Andrew Delke was following his training. Same defense used at Nuremburg and Lt. Calley used in Vietnam, and now Andrew Delke is propounding in this court," said Funk.
"By making such inflammatory comments that have no place in this city - or more importantly, in a courtroom - by making that statement, the District Attorney Glenn Funk has functionally declared war on our police," said Raybin in response.
In response to Raybin's rebuttal, Funk's office released this statement:
Mr. Raybin stated today that the District Attorney has 'declared war on the police department.'
Nothing could be further from the truth.
This office respects and supports the Metro Nashville Police Department.
Contrary to Mr. Raybin’s statement, General Funk’s comments during the preliminary hearing were that individuals are accountable for their actions and cannot assign blame to their superiors or the department as a whole.
This case is about Andrew Delke and his actions, not the MNPD.
Late Monday afternoon, the Fraternal Order of Police also released a statement regarding the case, saying that Blackburn made "the wrong decision."
Today we learned that Judge Blackburn has decided to send Officer Andrew Delke’s case to the grand jury. Obviously, we believe that the judge made the wrong decision. We remain hopeful that the citizens on the grand jury will see the facts more clearly than the judge did. Several hours of expert testimony proved that Officer Delke had good reason to fear that his life was in danger when this convicted felon, armed with a military grade semiautomatic weapon, pointed that loaded weapon at him. While it’s tragic that Mr. Hambrick’s actions caused his own death, many more people could have been killed that day, including Officer Delke.
Thousands of police families and their supporters were disgusted when District Attorney Glenn Funk compared Nashville police officers to Nazis. Our officers work diligently every day to protect and serve this community. Any suggestion that insinuates our officers are comparable to Nazis is unbecoming of a public official and he should apologize immediately. Additionally, we call on Mayor Briley and Police Chief Anderson to immediately condemn these hateful remarks.
Finally, District Attorney Funk has underlined his desire to have transparency throughout this entire proceeding. If he is truly interested in transparency and fairness, to show that he’s handling this case fairly, he should agree to allow respected Use of Force Expert, Robert Allen, to testify in front of the grand jury. If District Attorney Funk refuses, it will be a clear sign to the citizens of Nashville, and those that protect it, that he’s unwilling to give the grand jury all the facts.
Today’s events should bring concern to all Nashville citizens. District attorney Funk’s actions will undoubtedly create suspicion in the minds of the officers of this city that when they follow the law and their training, they can expect to be wrongfully prosecuted.
App users, click here to view additional coverage of this story.