Nashville officer killed after 17-year-old driving without a license slammed into his police vehicle while on duty, police say

A Tennessee police officer was killed while on duty Thursday when his marked police car was struck by a 17-year-old motorist who was driving without a license, according to the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.

Officer John Anderson, a four-year veteran of the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department (MNPD) and a father of an 18-month-old son, was hit around 3 a.m. Thursday when he was heading to an interstate to assist a fellow officer with a pedestrian who was reported to have been in a traffic lane waving his arms, police said.

Anderson’s police vehicle was “violently struck” on the driver’s side by a 2016 Ford Fusion driven by 17-year-old Jayona Brown, according to police.

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Brown was booked into juvenile detention on charges of vehicular homicide by recklessness, felony evading arrest, aggravated assault by recklessness, driving on a suspended license and juvenile curfew violation.

According to a preliminary investigation, Anderson, 28, was hit by Brown after she failed to stop for a flashing red traffic light at Woodland Street and Interstate Drive in Nashville, police said.

Officer Anderson died at the scene.  Brown was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where she was treated and released. Police said Brown’s passenger was critically injured and is being treated at another local hospital.

Minutes before the collision, police said a DUI unit officer in an unmarked police car saw the Ford Fusion commit a lane violation and got behind the car.  The officer activated his blue lights to stop the car and police said Brown pulled to the right and slowed down, but did not stop.  When the officer activated his siren, Brown sped away, police said.

Police said the car was not reported stolen since it belonged to Brown’s aunt, and the officer decided not to pursue it. The officer did, however, radio that the car did not stop for him and provided the license plate number, according to police.

Nashville’s mayor, David Briley, tweeted on Thursday that “this tragedy is a stark reminder of our officers’ selfless pledge to protect and serve our city – and we will be forever grateful.”

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

Anderson graduated from the MNPD academy in June 2015 and was also a member of the department’s Drill & Ceremony Team. He was a member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as well.

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Officer Anderson received the MNPD’s Lifesaving Award in 2017 for saving a victim who had a deep wound after being stabbed. Police said Anderson minimized his blood loss until medics arrived on scene.

Anderson received the Lifesaving Award again in 2018 for saving a suicidal man who was about jump off a bridge.

Anderson also received the Department Commendation Award in 2019 for responding to a reported robbery of a business and arresting two suspects after a “several hours long standoff,” police said.

When Anderson and other officers first responded to the business “all appeared normal,” according to police.

“Rather than just leave, they continued to investigate and found a clerk hiding in a cooler in the back of the convenience store,” police said, adding that the clerk advised that the two suspects were in the office and that one was armed with a gun. Police added that the clerk told officers she had hidden in the cooler after calling 911.       

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A detention hearing for Brown is scheduled for Friday afternoon.