She might only be 17-years-old, but police say she took the life of a police officer and left her friend fighting for her life… and she has to pay for her actions.

Jayona Brown is accused in the death of crashing into and killing a Metro Nashville police officer.

But her attorney says the teen didn’t mean to hurt anyone.

“After the crash, her first concern was for the officer and her passenger,” said attorney Michie Gibson.

Gibson said he visited his client twice inside juvenile detention on Friday, and says she’s “sincerely sorry”.

Here’s what happened.

Anderson, was killed in a crash at 3:05 a.m. on July 4that the intersection of Interstate Dr. & Woodland Street.

According to police, his car was hit by Brown, who was in a Ford Fusion which also had an 18-year-old female passenger.  Brown suffered minor injuries and the passenger suffered life threatening injuries.

Aaron said a different officer tried to stop the Fusion because the car was weaving and had its brights on, but the driver wouldn’t pull over stop. 

That officer looked up the car’s information to see if it had been stolen, according to Aaron. When he realized it wasn’t, he didn’t pursue the vehicle.

In the meantime, Officer Anderson was responding to assist another officer who was handling a pedestrian on the highway and was traveling to East Nashville on Woodland Street.

Spokesperson Kris Mumford said the driver of the Fusion was on Interstate Drive and had a red flashing light… but blew through it and hit Anderson “very, very hard” on the driver’s side.

“The Fusion struck with tremendous impact,” Mumford said. 

That impact pushed the cruiser into a nearby utility pole, causing the vehicle to catch fire.

“The investigation will continue for the next many hours, days. We’ll see the results of it during that time,” Aaron said.  

The two in the vehicle that hit the officer were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Skyline Medical Center. 

Thursday morning around 8:30 a.m., Aaron said Brown was discharged from Vanderbilt and arrested. 

She will be charged with vehicular homicide by recklessness, evading arrest and driving with a suspended license.  Early reports suggested she might have been intoxicated.  We have not been able to confirm that.

According to Gibson, Jayona Brown snuck out of her house late Wednesday night, took her aunt’s 2016 Ford Fusion and picked up her friend, 18-year-old Antona Eswa. 

“They’re good friends. She was taking her home when the accident happened,” said Gibson. 

Gibson said Brown thought the chase was over and was just trying to do the right thing.

“She had actually planned to pull over at Shoney’s, as my understanding, and she ran a flashing light,” said Gibson.

Officer Anderson’s car caught fire and he died at the scene.  He was a Marine and a proud father and leaves behind a toddler, step-son and a girlfriend.

“Jayona’s mother is devastated,” said Gibson. “Her mother is concerned for the officer’s family and his 18-month-old child, his son.“

Brown’s passenger is still in in critical condition.

It’s not Gibson’s first time with Brown.  He has represented her in juvenile court before, but he couldn’t elaborate on the charges because they are private under state law.

“Her charges were so minor in the past, and I’ve represented so many people, I had to go back in my file to remember what the charges were even about,” Gibson said.

He said she should be convicted of negligence but not vehicular homicide. 

“I’ve done personal injury cases before and negligence can result in consequences where people get hurt and sometimes they get tragically, what happened here, killed. It’s still negligence. You usually don’t go to jail for running a stop sign,” said Gibson.

The state wants to try Brown has an adult.

In the meantime, Anderson’s family is in deep mourning.

“He prayed every day before he went on to his shift… I remember that from when we were together,” Kristen Buell said, “Every day he prayed for safety.”

Buell was his girlfriend and says her family is devastated.

“John and I met the summer of 2016, in August,” she said. 

Not long after came their son, Gavin.

“He wanted nothing more in his life, he always wanted a son,” Buell said.

Gavin is just 18 months old and is said to be a spitting image of his dad.

“He’s already his twin, he looks just like him,” she said, “I already know as he gets older, there’s gonna be so many things that remind me of him, and that’s something I’ll hold onto for a lifetime.”

She said Anderson, a Marine, was a man of incredible dedication.

“It’s hard being…so involved in someone’s life that they’re being put out there for everyone else’s protection,” Buell said. “But, that’s, that’s where his heart was. That’s what he wanted to do. He wanted to serve in Nashville.”

Buell said she’s grateful for the little time Anderson did get to spend with his son.

“I’m happy that for the time that he did get to live,” she said, “He got, he got to be a dad.”

Anderson is normally the midnight shift in the Central Precinct, which encompasses downtown. 

“A very tragic way to start off, what’s supposed to be, a very festive weekend,” Chief Steve Anderson, no relation, said in a statement. “Officer Anderson was a big part of the police department.”

Here’s Chief Anderson’s message from the scene of the accident:

According to Nashville Mayor David Briley, Anderson’s death is a reminder of the daily sacrifices of emergency responders:

“Officer Anderson pledged his life to serve and protect us – a solemn duty that we can sometimes take for granted,” Briley said. “His death today is a stark reminder of that pledge, and his service to our city will be forever remembered.”

Councilman Brett Withers said the loss is devastating… not to mention senseless.

“May God receive Officer John Anderson and walk with his family and friends during this time of loss and sorrow,” Withers said. “And may God watch over the young driver and her passenger as they heal from injuries and come to terms with what happened this morning.”

According to police, Anderson was a member of the Drill and Ceremony Team.  That meant he was often tasked with honoring fallen officers throughout Tennessee. 

“When our city experiences tragedy, we come together as one community to support and lift each other up. I am sure that will happen now. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Officer John Anderson and our entire police force today,” said Briley.

 

District Attorney Glenn Funk released a statement as well:

“We are heartbroken to learn about Officer John Anderson’s death. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Anderson’s family and with the men and women of the Metro Nashville Police Department who put their lives on the line for our safety every day.”

Officer Anderson’s End of Watch was July 4th 2019.

His life mattered.