Nashville, TN – Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) Officer John Anderson was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, when a fleeing suspect crashed into his patrol vehicle.
Officer Anderson, 28, was on his way to an unrelated call when the fatal collision occurred, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
The incident began at approximately 3 a.m., when a MNPD DUI officer spotted an oncoming Ford Fusion driving with its high beams on, WTVF reported.
The driver, later identified as 17-year-old Jayona Brown, failed to dim her lights for oncoming traffic, so the officer turned around and attempted to pull her over.
Brown slowed down momentarily, but refused to stop and hit the accelerator.
By that time, the officer determined that the vehicle wasn’t stolen, so he decided not to pursue Brown.
Meanwhile, Officer Anderson was on his way to help another officer who was dealing with a pedestrian on the interstate.
As he drove through the intersection of Woodland Street and Interstate Drive, Brown failed to yield and blew through the intersection, slamming into the officer’s driver’s side door.
The force of the impact sent the patrol vehicle into a spin before it crashed into a nearby utility pole and burst into flames.
The fire rapidly engulfed the patrol car, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Brown was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries, and has since been released, WTVF reported.
She was subsequently booked into a juvenile detention center on charges of driving on a suspended license, evading arrest, vehicular homicide, juvenile curfew violation, and aggravated assault.
An 18-year-old female passenger in Brown’s vehicle was transported to a different hospital with life-threatening injuries.
"Our hearts are very heavy this morning," MNPD Public Affairs Manager Don Aaron said during a press conference, according to WTVF. "Officer Anderson was a very well-liked individual amongst all officers who knew him."
Officer Anderson, a four-year veteran-of-the-force, was assigned to the Central Precinct, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.
Just 24 hours before his death, Officer Anderson helped rescue a trapped crash victim by smashing out the window of an overturned van, WZTV reported.
He and other officers then extracted the driver from the vehicle.
"It goes without saying that when we lose an officer...it's like losing a brother or sister,” Metro Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson said. “And this goes for this department, and departments all over middle Tennessee."
"A very tragic way to start off what's supposed to be a very festive weekend," Chief Anderson continued, as he struggled to hold back tears. "Officer Anderson was a big part of the police department.”
Officer Anderson had chosen to work in the downtown area, which is one of the busiest areas in the city for law enforcement, the chief noted.
He was also a member of the Drill and Ceremony team and the Marine Corps Reserve, the Tennessean reported.
“Officer Anderson pledged his life to serve and protect us – a solemn duty that we can sometimes take for granted,” Nashville Mayor David Briley said in a statement to WZTV. “His death today is a stark reminder of that pledge, and his service to our city will be forever remembered.”
Briley commended local law enforcement for their dedication to protecting and serving the citizens of Nashville.
“Our officers are part of the fabric of this city, and I am eternally grateful for what they do every day, risking their lives to save others,” the mayor said. “I want to thank each of the brave men and women of our Metro Nashville Police Department. We should all be so lucky to have a police force like ours…My thoughts are with the family and friends of Officer John Anderson and our entire police force today."
Officer Anderson leaves behind his girlfriend and his son, who is approximately 18 months old, the Tennessean reported.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Metro Nashville Police Department Officer John Anderson, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.