As Nashville officer’s murder trial looms, video showing the criminal holding a gun has mysteriously vanished

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NASHVILLE, TN – Pretrial arguments continued Monday as Nashville prepares for the trial of the first Nashville police officer charged with murder in an on-duty shooting, as prosecutors accused the white Nashville officer of “character assassination” against the black man he shot.

Prosecutors say Officer Andrew Delke, 27, broke the law by shooting Daniel Hambrick, 25, in the back while he was running away in July 2018. A grand jury indicted the officer on one count of premeditated first-degree murder.

He has pleaded not guilty. Delke’s defense argues he was acting in self-defense after he said he saw Hambrick holding a gun.

A motions hearing began Friday in which prosecutors and defense attorneys argued in court about the evidence jurors would be allowed to consider during the trial.

 

Several issues were raised by both sides during the motions hearing, focusing mainly on various videos that captured most of the car pursuit and foot chase that led to the fatal shooting.

Video was captured by several cameras, from personal dash cameras and city surveillance cameras. However, a vital portion of the video, where Delke claims he saw Hambrick holding a firearm, is missing.

According to the Tennessean:

“An approximately 36-foot stretch of grass between houses is not pictured in footage obtained by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation from surveillance cameras that day. The missing clip would only add a few more seconds of evidence.

“Video from those cameras was not available after a 30-day retention period expired before Delke was charged in the case.”

 

Potential video taken of the “void space” was the subject of several hours of testimony as Defense Attorney David Raybin questioned a private investigator, a digital evidence expert, and the lead TBI agent who investigated the case.

Raybin asked the witness about how the video footage was obtained, and why the portion was missing from the record. Evidence indicated that there may have been footage from the “void space” that was not retained by investigators.

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Raybin questioned TBI Special Agent Steven Kennard as to why footage from the area for several hours before and after the incident was not retained, but only a 15-minute clip from each of a dozen sources.

Raybin told Kennard that obtaining the video would have taken less time than the question he just endured:

“Wouldn’t the video be helpful?” Raybin asked.

“You could argue that it would be helpful,” Kennard replied.

Raybin shot back:

“We’ve spent three times as much time as it would have taken to get all of it arguing about it. But you didn’t do that. Why in the world wouldn’t you want to collect every scrap of video?”

Kennard said he relied on Joseph Edenfield, a former Metro housing agency video specialist and a former MNPD officer, to review and collect relevant video. Kennard also said he believed he had all the necessary video evidence:

“I made the determination based on his information. I had no reason to believe there was any other video out there that I needed that I didn’t have.

“If I knew that that camera angle was there, and I knew that it was pointing toward the void, I would have taken it. I did not know that at the time.”

Another issue raised during the hearing involved the introduction of criminal history information regarding the victim. The prosecution argued it was character assassination, but the defense claimed his past played a role in what happened.

Both sides agree that Hambrick was carrying a gun as he fled the officer that night but differ on the importance of Hambrick’s past to the shooting.

The defense wants to show the jury a photograph showing Hambrick holding money and a handgun. Hambrick was a convicted felon at the time of the shooting.

The prosecution argued that Delke did not know who Hambrick was as he ran from the officer on the night of the shooting, making the criminal history irrelevant.

The shooting occurred on July 26, 2018. According to police reports, Delke became suspicious when a white Chevrolet Impala stopped at a stop sign and “conceded the right of way by not pulling out in front of him.”

Delke told investigators he ran the vehicle’s license plate and determined the vehicle was not stolen. He decided to follow the vehicle in order to “develop a reason to stop the Impala.”

Delke lost the vehicle, but “mistook a different white four-door sedan” in the parking lot of an apartment building as the Impala.

As Delke approached the vehicle, Hambrick fled on foot. Delke chased the suspect and observed a handgun in Hambrick’s hand. Delke gave multiple orders for Hambrick to drop the gun.

As Hambrick continued to run, Delke fired four shots, striking Hambrick in the back of the head, the back, and the torso. A fourth shot missed and struck a nearby building.

Hambrick died from his gunshot wounds.

In addition to the criminal trial, Hambrick’s family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Delke and the Metro government seeking $30 million in damages. 

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the Hambrick family argues that Metro and Delke violated Hambrick’s Fourth Amendment and 14th Amendment rights against excessive force and race discrimination, and also that Delke is liable for Hambrick’s wrongful death.

The lawsuit also claims that the Nashville Police Department has a “culture of fear, violence and racism.”

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