Two Denver officers shot and killed 16-year-old Jessica Hernandez (pictured below) in an allegedly stolen car Monday morning, the Denver Post reports.
According to the officers, Hernandez attempted to hit them with a vehicle in a dark alley, striking one of the officers in the leg before they opened fire. The shooting happened around 6:30 a.m. in the city’s Park Hill area.
The shots woke up neighbors who said they heard screaming and crying afterward.
Witnesses counted five teens in the car. Officials took Hernandez to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
“Based on what I know about the case, obviously there are a lot of questions that need to be answered,” commented Denver Police Chief Robert White.
One of the officers had been following reports of a suspicious vehicle in the alley prior to the shooting. When he ran its’ license plates and found it was stolen, he radioed for support.
The second officer arrived before both directly approached the car, at which point it apparently headed in their direction.
The injured officer was treated and released from a hospital for his damaged leg.
Brianna Diaz, who lives next to the alley where the shooting happened, claimed that her 16-year-old sister was in the vehicle at the time.
Their mother ran from the house after the shots but was stopped.
“My mom told me to start filming, but when I took out my phone, the cop was like, ‘Don’t you dare!’ ” Diaz said.
According to the parent of another teen in the car, there were four girls and one boy in the vehicle in the alley. They had been relaxing and playing music for hours.
The Mother, who spoke anonymously, was upset because her underage daughter had not returned home by Sunday evening and was unresponsive to texts and phone calls.
Her daughter was unaware the car was stolen, she added. “She’s taken it hard,” the parent said. “She’s been in shock off and on. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
A neighbor recorded video of officers searching Hernandez while rolling her on her back and stomach, the DP reports. She is supposedly limp and unresponsive in the clip.
Around 100 people held a candlelight vigil for Hernandez near the alleyway Monday evening. Some residents have denounced the incident as police brutality,and will rally outside District Attorney Mitch Morrisey’s office Tuesday morning, the AP reports.
“We’re angry about it. It’s another life taken by another cop,” said Cynthia Valdoz, close friend to Hernandez. “She was trying to find her talent. She wanted to find out what she wanted to be. … Who knows what she could have been?”
Both officers are currently on administrative leave pending further investigation.