Note: we are republishing this story amid nationwide discussion regarding police accountability and the relationship between police officers and their communities.
The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department released bodycam and dashcam video of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Nika Holbert.
According to department spokesman Don Aaron, the incident began on March 12th at about 9:30 a.m. when Officer Josh Baker stopped a vehicle in front of the Dollar General.
Demond Buchanan, the owner of the black Chevy Camaro, had 6 active drug warrants, but the officer quickly realized that Buchanan wasn’t the driver.
Bodycam footage showed that he found drugs in the car, radioed twice for backup before trying to take 31-year-old Holbert into custody. Holbert didn’t comply with any of Officer Baker’s commands, reaching around inside the vehicle before she finally got out of the car.
Officer Baker told her to go to the back of the car but she didn’t, instead wandering around a bit as she called her mother to come pick her up. Ignoring the officer’s commands, she reached into the car several times.
According to bodycam footage, Officer Baker had found a small bag of marijuana and a powdery residue in the driver’s bag. He went to put her in handcuffs, but Holbert grabbed her purse and tried to flee.
Baker chased her around the car as she screamed. The video showed Holbert’s phone propped to her ear by her shoulder and a cigarette between her lips as she ran around.
She jumped back into the car, but Baker deployed his Taser to stop her from closing the driver’s door. Screaming, Holbert kept resisting as she rummaged around in the vehicle. With the Taser against her upper arms, Baker deployed it again. Holbert kept reaching for a gun inside the car.
When Officer Baker saw the weapon, he immediately began backing away as he yelled at her to put it down.
“Ma’am, put the gun down, put the gun down,” he yelled, drawing his own gun. Holbert fired and Baker returned fire. She then tossed her gun on the ground and fled the scene in the Camaro, crashing into a ditch shortly after. She was taken to the hospital. Baker had been shot once, Holbert twice. Holbert died at the hospital.
Baker was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center Trauma Center in critical condition and remained hospitalized in stable condition after surgery.
“I’ve reviewed the body cam footage, he appeared to do everything he could to try to de-escalate the situation, including the use of Taser, including trying not to use his firearm,” MNPD Chief John Drake said.
According to Chief Drake, Baker couldn’t release Holbert because she had drugs and didn’t have a driver’s license. “There’s nothing else he could have done better other than maybe leave the scene and let her go away, and obviously, he couldn’t do that,” he said.
However, Holbert’s mother stated that she disagreed with the chief’s assessment and was hiring an attorney, adding that she wasn’t surprised that her daughter pulled a gun on Baker. “He was trying to kill her with that Taser and she was trying to protect herself,” she said.
Sources: The Police Tribune