Ofc. John Anderson

Ofc. John Anderson was killed in a fiery crash in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 4.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Jayona Brown, the 17-year-old charged with vehicular homicide in the death of Metro Police Officer John Anderson, appeared in court Thursday.

In proceedings, it was revealed that Officer Anderson was driving 85 mph down Woodland, and was going 71 mph at the time his car was hit.

An accident reconstructionist with Metro Police said the crash would not have happened if Anderson had been traveling at 45 mph, 10 miles above the posted speed limit at that stretch. The reconstructionist also said the crash would not have happened if Brown had not run a flashing red light. 

A defense attorney asks whether or not Officer Anderson's high rate of speed contributed to the crash, to which an officer testified it did not. 

According to the Metro Nashville Police Manual, Anderson should have been traveling no more than 10 miles per hour above the posted speed limit: 

An employee operating an authorized emergency vehicle engaging in emergency operation may:

a. Park or stand, irrespective of motor vehicle & traffic laws;

b. Proceed past a red or stop signal or stop sign, but only after slowing down as may be necessary for safe operation;

c. Exceed the maximum speed limits, so long as it does not endanger life or property, by no more than 10 miles per hour; or Note: Specific provisions regarding vehicular pursuit, particularly as such pursuits differ from emergency operation when responding to a call-for-service, may be found in existing policy concerning vehicular pursuits.

d. Disregard regulations governing direction of movement or turning in specified directions. Important: Tennessee Courts have held that the flashing of lights alone, without the sounding of the siren, does not extend emergency privilege to police vehicles. Therefore, when a vehicle being operated as an emergency vehicle is in motion, both blue lights and siren must be used. When such vehicle is not in motion (e.g. stopped or standing at the scene of accident, crime, etc.), only emergency lights are necessary.

During the hearing, it was revealed an officer with a DUI unit sent Brown to a blood test three hours after the crash happened. The result was Brown tested positive for THC but according to the officer, she took no other tests for impairment.

Due to the different effects of THC, there isn't a way to distinctively say Brown was impaired.

During Thursday’s hearing, the officer who initially tried to pull Brown over the night of the crash testified he stopped pursuing her before she turned onto Interstate Drive. Brown collided with Anderson’s squad car in the following intersection. The judge said his decision was largely contingent upon whether Brown believed she was still being pursued at the time of the crash, adding that running the flashing red light was consistent with that behavior. 

Brown's passenger Antona Esaw testified Brown told her she was smoking marijuana before she picked Esaw up in between 10 and 11 p.m. the night before the crash.

Esaw also testified Brown fled the officer because she was driving without a license. 

At the end of the appearance, the judge ruled there was probable cause for vehicular homicide by recklessness. The judge has set a transfer hearing to determine whether or not Brown's prosecution will be held in an adult or juvenile court, and set that transfer hearing for February 10, 2020.

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WSMV Digital Content Producer

A New York City native and a graduate of the Mizzou School of Journalism, Ethan joined the WSMV Digital Team in June 2019. Send him story ideas, food recommendations and sports topics to Ethan.Illers@wsmv.com and follow him on Twiiter @EthanIllers_TV!


Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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