17-year-old driver in Nashville hits police car, killing officer, police say

The driver, Jayona Brown, faces charges that include vehicular homicide by recklessness and felony evading arrest.
Image: Crash kills officer
Metro Police officer John Anderson was killed in a crash when a 17-year-old drove into his police car.Metro Nashville PD

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By Minyvonne Burke

A Tennessee officer was killed in a fiery crash early Thursday morning when a 17-year-old driver ran into his police car, authorities said.

The Metropolitan Nashville Police Department announced the death of officer John Anderson, 28, in a tweet.

"It was extreme sadness that the MNPD confirms the on-duty death of Central Precinct Officer John Anderson," the department wrote on Twitter Thursday morning.

The crash happened at around 3 a.m. when a Ford Fusion driven by 17-year-old Jayona Brown went through a flashing red light and struck Anderson's car "very, very hard" in the intersection, police spokesman Don Aaron said at a news conference.

The force of the crash caused Anderson's car to spin, slam into a utility pole and catch fire, he said. Anderson, a four-year veteran with the department, died at the scene.

Moments before the crash, a different officer passed Brown driving with her high-beams on. Aaron said she did not dim her lights for the officer or other oncoming traffic.

Officer John AndersonMetro Nashville PD

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The officer began pursuing the car, attempting to stop it. Brown slowed down but "took off" when the officer turned on his siren, according to Aaron.

Aaron said the officer checked to see if the car had been reported stolen and because it had not, stopped pursuing the vehicle.

Police believe Officer Anderson was on his way to provide backup to a colleague when he was hit.

Brown was hospitalized with injuries that are considering not life threatening. An 18-year-old passenger in her car was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, Aaron said.

Brown was booked on charges of vehicular homicide by recklessness, felony evading arrest, driving on a suspended license, juvenile curfew violation and aggravated assault by recklessness stemming from injuries to a passenger.

Police Chief Steve Anderson said the crash was a "very tragic way" to start what was supposed to be a festive Fourth of July weekend.

"Officer Anderson was a big part of this police department," he said during a brief news conference. "He worked the downtown area, one of the busiest areas in town, by his own choosing."

Chief Anderson, who said he is not related to the fallen officer, appeared to get emotional as he talked about how the death will affect his colleagues.

"Other officers that worked around, even those that don't know him, are obviously very disturbed. It goes without saying that when we lose an officer ... it's like losing a brother or sister."

Mayor David Briley called the crash a "tragic day for Nashville."

"For this holiday to start on such a tragic note ... is just horrible," he said. "Officer Anderson and his family are in our thoughts and our prayers go out to them."

Brown is set to appear for a hearing on Friday.