On Wednesday, the Nashville, Tennessee District Attorney released a video showing the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Daniel Hambrick by Nashville police officer Andrew Delke.
Hambrick was black, and Delke is white.
The video shows Delke firing his gun as Hambrick runs away. One of the bullets hits him in the back and he collapses on a lawn. He was later pronounced dead.
Prior to the release of the video, the department claimed that Hambrick had been armed and that the gun was found at the scene.
The local Fraternal Order of Police is still standing behind the white officer, claiming Delke’s decision to shoot Hambrick was “absolutely necessary and reasonable” and that currently undisclosed information will exonerate him.
A thorough investigation has yet to be conducted. But it’s hard to see any justification for firing at a man’s back as he flees.
Raw Story spoke with retired Seattle Police Chief and criminal justice reformer Norm Stamper about the video.
“I have an emotional reaction and a professional, procedural reaction,” Stamper tells Raw Story. “My emotional reaction is, this is a classic example of a police officer who appears not to have much respect for the sanctity of human life. A white cop shooting a fleeing black man … and there are all kinds of questions about the gun.” He points out that the gun that was allegedly found near Hambrick’s body is not clearly visible in the footage.
“With all of the objectivity I can muster, what I see is a police officer who is shooting in the back a man who is running away from him. And there appears to be no immediate threat for the officer’s safety and survival.”
“I’m stuck once again with this feeling that we’re not getting through to our police officers,” Stamper says. “We’re not being effective in communicating to every police officer that the preservation of human life is their top priority.”
Stamper says that during his decades in public service, he’s frequently encountered the attitude that the top priority for police is to make it home to their families at night. That’s understandable. But Stamper adds that it’s somewhat shortsighted to presume that an officer’s safety conflicts with the communities they’re supposed to serve.
“A philosophy that respects the santicty of human life is beneficial to them because it makes their work easier,” he points out.
“There’s so much distrust between police and communities of color. Between white cops and black citizens. There’s such a long tradition of police officers shooting first and asking questions later.”