Photo: MNPD Officer Andrew Delke
Photo Credit: MNPD / Background photo – Josh Beasley / CC
Published June 16, 2021
The Tennessee Conservative Staff –
The Nashville District Attorney’s office is looking into the possibility of calling in a law enforcement witness who testified in the George Floyd case to help them in the July first-degree murder trial of a Nashville police officer.
It is still up for a judge to decide if Jody Stiger, a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department, will be allowed to testify against Officer Andrew Delke.
Delke, a white officer with the Metro Nashville Police Department, is on trial for the death of Daniel Hambrick. Hambrick, a black man, was shot from behind in July 2018 as he fled from Delke on foot. Hambrick was armed at the time.
Delke entered a plea of not guilty. He states that he was acting in self-defense after Hambrick pointed a gun at him.
The state would like to use Stiger as an expert witness on the subject of police use of force. Stiger previously testified against Derek Chauvin, the former officer who was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd.
Delke’s attorney David Raybin objects, stating that prosecutors want to “inject that case into this case.” He fears that creating a parallel to the Floyd case would taint the Nashville trial.
*** Click Here to Support Conservative Journalism in Tennessee. We can’t can’t cover important Tennessee topics like this without your support!***
“Daniel Hambrick is no George Floyd. Office Delke is no Derek Chauvin,” Raybin said. “(District Attorney Glenn) Funk says he wants to be transparent. And we can see right through him.”
Additionally, Raybin argued that the state is attempting a “bait and switch” by attempting to add Stiger to the witness list after the deadline, leaving the defense unable to adequately prepare to respond to Stiger’s report of the Nashville incident.
Deputy District Attorney Roger Moore acknowledged that prosecutors first learned of Stiger through his April testimony in the Floyd case. However, Moore says the state will make “no mention of George Floyd, (Stiger’s) participation in that trial, or anything that would bring that into the purview of the jury.”
Raybin questions how they could prove the witness’ credibility without mention of the well-known case, as that is the only case Stiger has testified in.
“We get his testimony from that case and start to ask him questions, the jurors are not stupid, they’re going to know what that is,” Raybin said.
Moore also argued that there would be more than enough time for the defense to prepare before the trial and added that they “may or may not” actually call Stiger to the stand.
Moore believes that expert testimony will not be needed by the jury after they review video footage of the shooting.
Raybin doesn’t agree.
The defense has requested that all video evidence be excluded from the case because footage showing a blind spot in the visible angles was not retained. They believe that this blind spot was the point in which Hambrick pointed a gun at Delke. Raybin says this failure to collect all surveillance video is a violation of his client’s constitutional rights.
“This man’s life is hanging on a video, and they didn’t preserve it,” Raybin stated. “Evidence could have existed that could have shown highly exculpatory evidence, and it wasn’t preserved. That’s reasonable doubt.”
Raybin argues that the DA’s office and the TBI both erred in not gathering footage from all cameras in the North Nashville housing complex. The defense was not granted access to video footage until Delke was officially charged, after the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency’s 30-day retention period had already passed.
Raybin also requested that evidence of Hambrick’s felony records be allowed to consider that he fled from Delke because he wanted to avoid being caught with a weapon.
Attorneys for Delke have maintained that he responded in accordance with his training and with Tennessee law in dealing with “an armed suspect who ignored repeated orders to drop his gun.” Funk argued that Delke could have sought other methods, such a seeking cover and requesting backup.
Judge Monte Watkins has not yet decided if Stiger will be permitted to testify in the case. He will make that decision, as well as a decision on the inclusion of video evidence and Hambrick’s criminal record.
“Because of this old phrase all of us have heard a number of times, ‘in the interest of justice,” Watkins stated, “this is a matter that I want to take a look at and make a determination. It might take me a couple of days to do so. I will notify lawyers about the decision I’ve made.”
A jury is set to be selected in three weeks.