Niara Savage│Nashville Voice
On Friday, excerpts from an interview of Andrew Delke explaining his decision to shoot Daniel Hambrick just days after the shooting were played in court. In the interview, Delke parrots the phrase that has almost become a trademark excuse for White cops who shoot and kill Black people. Delke’s expected, predictable, and overused “I feared for my life” argument, presented itself through the words, “If I don’t shoot him, I’m gonna die.
There are many problems with this statement. First, it is concerning that a trained Metro Nashville Police Officer is so ill-equipped to serve, that he lacks access to effective, non-lethal weapons, and is not proficient in de-escalation strategy.
Second, Officer Delke, although he may not have been aware of it, made a distinct value statement as he defended his actions. “If I don’t shoot him, I’m going to die.” That is to say, ‘due to my incompetence one of us is going to die, and it’s not going to be me, so it’s going to be you.’ The officer’s life mattered before the civilian’s, the White life before that Black one.
Perhaps what’s worse about Friday’s events is that the core of the defense’s argument is that Delke was so afraid for his life because Daniel Hambrick reportedly turned and pulled a gun on him during the foot chase. The officer apparently reiterated this point many times throughout his interview. There’s one glaring problem with this claim: At no point in any of the multiple video footage of the pursuit, is Daniel Hambrick shown pulling a gun on the officer.
The defense argues that Daniel pulled the gun only during the 1.9-2.4 seconds of the chase not caught on camera. When asked whether or not a man could even turn and aim a weapon of that size in such a short period of time, TBI agent Steven Kennard admitted, “it would be very difficult.”
Despite the fact that whether or not Daniel actually pulled a gun on Delke is unverifiable, the officer claims that he “knew 100 percent that his intent was to use that gun against me…”
Will Delke’s gut feelings and personal predilection that led to his decision to shoot Daniel Hambrick be enough to make Judge Blackburn reject the case’s escalation to a grand jury? The judge has made decisions about the case on the basis of unverifiable information in the past. Last month, she ruled that the defense could use Daniel’s past “aggressive acts” to defend the officer’s actions even though there was no evidence the officer could have been aware of Daniel’s record at the time of the shooting.
On Monday, the judge will decide if the case is strong enough to move forward.