Police shooting of teen girl sparks potential changes at Denver city hall

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DENVER -- A shooting by Denver police officer that killed a teenaged girl last week may bring some changes at city hall.

Jessie Hernandez was shot and killed in a stolen car in a Denver alley Jan. 26. Officers said they fired at her because she tried to run them over. One officer was hit and he received treatment for a leg injury.

But her death is renewing the debate about oversight of the police department and who is really looking out for the safety of the citizens.

Denver City Council members are looking at ways to ensure transparency, oversight and accountability as the actions of law enforcement continue to be questioned and scrutinized.

Council members on the Safety and Well-Being Committee are hoping tackled the issue head-on in a public meeting at Tuesday afternoon.

The changes would give the independent monitor authority on investigations and oversight. This comes as the Denver Sheriff’s Department has paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits for excessive force scandals.

And just Tuesday a judge announced a settlement in which the city of Denver agreed to pay $860,000 to settle a police beating case. In that case, James Moore was beaten so severely in March 2008 that he had to be resuscitated.

It also comes on the heels of a police shooting involving the death of 17-year-old Jessie Hernandez, under the first two amendments, the safety departments — police, sheriff and fire — would have to comply with the independent monitor when it comes to internal affairs investigations instead of allowing each department to set its own policies.

The third amendment would require the safety departments to share information and records with the independent monitor that are necessary for him to fulfill his role.

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