Judge rules victim’s criminal history can be used in defense of officer involved in the Hambrick shooting

By NIARA SAVAGE | Nashville Voice

On Friday, Nashville Judge Melissa Blackburn stated that Daniel Hambrick’s past “aggressive acts” can be used by the defense to justify officer Andrew Delke’s decision to use deadly force against the fleeing 25-year old.

Delke, the first Metro Nashville Police officer ever charged with criminal homicide, shot Hambrick three times in the back in July 2018.

Blackburn’s decision to hear evidence relating to Hambrick’s past criminal record is significant because officer Delke had no way of identifying the victim as an individual with a criminal record at the time of the shooting.

Prosecutors resisted the decision, arguing that there is no evidence supporting the fact that the officer involved had any knowledge of Hambrick’s record. Despite this lack of evidence, parts of Hambrick’s record will be introduced to the judge in January.

The defense intends to argue that officer Delke was acting in self-defense, despite the fact that Hambrick fled as the officer advanced.

Defense Attorney David Raybin intends to characterize Hambrick as the “first aggressor.” The defense also attempted to use Facebook photos of Hambrick “simulating holding a pistol,” as evidence that the victim used guns for target practice.

Judge Blackburn ruled against this motion.

However, the judge’s decision to hear evidence relating to Hambrick’s criminal record raises questions about the level of relevance between Hambrick’s record and the officer’s decision to use deadly force.

Considering the defense plans to argue the officer acted in self-defense, legal experts and community leaders have questioned the rationalize why information the officer could not have known at the time he pulled the trigger, would be relevant to such a case.

Assistant District Attorney Ronald Dowdy, questioned the motion as well.

“I am scratching my head trying to figure out how this relates to this shooting,” he asked during Friday’s hearing.

Some local media outlets seem to support the Judge’s decision to consider Hambrick’s criminal history.

On Monday, Dennis Ferrier of Fox 17 News Nashville characterized Hambrick as a man with, “a terrible record going back to his early teens,” and stated that Hambrick’s Facebook photos promoted “a gangster lifestyle.”

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